Slay Bells Ring
Buffy's Christmas is disturbed by a legendary creature.
None of this is owned by me, Buffy is owned by Joss Whedon, etc etc.
Slay Bells Ring
Buffy Summers stood
framed against the darkening skyline. The last fingers of sunlight set off a
deep golden glow from her hair, as the shadow crept up upon the old house.
Looking out upon the English countryside, she watched the vast dark shadows of
Celoso and Windsor moving beyond the kitchen window, cropping the long grass,
little more than silhouettes against the sunset.
rustling noise drew her attention from the window, and she turned to see Giles
coming in, loaded with shopping bags. The slayer watched him unpacking sweets
and crisps, and raised an eyebrow.
eagerly as he pushed his glasses up his nose. "No, these are for the children."
There are children?"
"Ah, yes. I've
organized a party for the local St Mary's." At her blank stare, he explained,
"The orphanage, Buffy. These are for the children."
orphanage? Giles, why didn't you tell me this?"
been seeing you of late, Buffy," Giles replied calmly, carefully arranging
nibbles in to a glass bowl. "It's a nice gesture, at any rate."
sceptically eyed the mountain of food. "If these kids had a Christmas dinner
like we did, they so won't be needing all that."
ignored her, checking the large wall clock instead, over which was draped a
generous portion of tinsel. "Ah, it's nearly five. The children will be here
"What are they
going to do? There's nothing here for little kids."
that children are quite good at amusing themselves, and Martha will be here too
to help keep them in order. They shouldn't be any trouble."
muttered, "That's what you think."
doorbell clanged through the house. "That will be the children," Giles beamed,
and hurried off to get the door. Buffy heard it opening and the screaming of
excited children; with a sigh, she absent-mindedly reached out and popped a
sweet in to her mouth.
well you know."
managed to keep herself from jumping in alarm. She looked up in to the
vampire's face with another sigh. "Are you going to be sneaking up on the kids
her, too. "They're orphans Buffy, and it's Christmas. They won't be here long.
Maybe you should give yourself a break."
"This is a
place of paranormal investigation! Not a schoolyard!
a small smile. "They're just children with nowhere to go. Giles is right, they
won't be any trouble. It might even be fun having them here."
and seek with a few friends, he had become separated from them, and was now
trying to find his way around a wing of Mr Giles' large house. To a small child,
the ajar doors, concealed in darkness, did nothing to detract from the
potential fun to be found in this new place. Exploring happily, Timmy toddled
in to one of the rooms.
There was a
large bed in this room, and a lamp and a few other meaningless pieces of
furniture. The little sandy-haired boy ducked under the bed and pulled out
something large and flat, made of stained wood, and covered in strange letters.
Timmy thought it was a board game and he poked it happily, shaking it, moving
it around in every way his small mind could think of.
Mr Giles was
coming down the corridor outside. Timmy paused for a moment, listening. It
didn't occur to him to hide; it hadn't occurred to him that he might have done
something wrong, and as the Englishman came in the boy's face broke in to a
toothy grin of greeting. Mr Giles bent down to him.
are! Did you wander away from your -"
Staring over the little boy's shoulder, he watched as the Planchette on the
Ouija board swung slowly from letter to letter. Timmy was not touching it;
nothing was touching it. The little boy turned around to look too, and started
to laugh. Giles quickly caught hold of his shoulders and spoke firmly; he was
angry, but he tried not to let it show.
"Did you touch
the board, Timothy?"
The little boy
grinned again. "Yeah! Fun game!"
"That is not a
game. You should never play with that! It is extremely dangerous."
his head slightly as Angel appeared, treading silently in to the doorway. He
ushered Timmy out of the way and pointed silently at the board, which was still
swinging. "He was playing with that."
playing with what?" Buffy joined Angel in the doorway, squeezing past him to
stand next to Giles. Angel pretended not to notice as their bodies briefly
explained, pointing to the board. "It's a Ouija board."
calling card for the dead."
"If you wish to put it like that; yes. But the Ouija board is an extremely dangerous
phenomenon, and shouldn't be used without the presence of a trained medium. The
board, when used, acts like a sort of portal between our world and that of the
dead. Meaning that spirits can freely enter our dimension while the board
connects our world and theirs. Unfortunately not all spirits are good. There
have been many cases of a Ouija board releasing malevolent spirits, and even
demons in to our world."
"So... did any
nasties come out of this one?"
on the board had stopped moving, but as they stood, a breeze blew across the
room; the curtains flapped and Timmy began to cry, plucking at Giles' sleeve.
As dangerous as the board was, he couldn't have understood what he was doing,
and while Giles hastened to slide the board out of sight, Angel knelt down to
speak kindly to the little boy.
let's get you back to the other children. We'll get you a cake and some toys,
and toddled off hand-in-hand with the tall vampire.
"I think we're
all right, Buffy. I do hope so; I was hoping to take you to see a pantomime
theatre," Giles said vaguely. "I've booked us in for Snow White."
missed her sarcasm. "I thought so. I suppose I had better return to the
children, before they entirely ruin my kitchen."
He set off
back down the corridor, and after a moment Buffy followed him. Nobody saw the
shadow pass over the house and carry on flying down towards the village.
uncomfortably as the seven dwarfs pirouetted about on stage in a manner that
did not represent traditional dwarves in any shape or form. Buffy, sitting beside
him, was struggling to suppress a massive giggle. Giles was the only one who
appeared to be appreciating the performance, but then Angel suspected that he
was more interested in Snow White than he was the dwarves.
finished and the small theatre rang to the gold rafters with applause. Maybe it
was this that masked the noise, even to Angel's sensitive ears. Or maybe he was
just more focused on the pantomime than he had thought; either way, it was
another two or three minutes before he heard the sound.
turned his head and craned up at the ceiling. Nobody else seemed to have heard
anything, and the Dwarves talked on regardless. Buffy gently touched his arm in
once took his eyes off the ceiling. "There's something on the roof."
round then too to look up at the ceiling, jostling Giles quite a bit in the
process. Giles frowned and was about to hiss at her to keep still when there
was a loud rumbling sound, and the ceiling shook slightly. Nearly everybody
looked up then. A few people started to head towards the exits.
never quite made it.
barely reached the stairs when the whole building began to shake as if the
earth's plates were shifting; but it was not the ground, but the ceiling, and
the ornate gilt ceiling supports began to fold inwards, splintering like
matchsticks as something drove in against them. Framed by the smashing wood and
plaster, as if it were wearing a collar, a huge flat black head was coming
through the ceiling.
It had slitted
red nostrils that ballooned open and shut as the creature breathed; it had
dark, almost black eyes with monstrous heavy lids that swept down over the
scene in the small theatre. As the creature forced further in, everyone saw the
sweeping horns sticking out at right-angles to its scaly head. Two front feet
with magnificent hooked claws thudded down on to the red carpet, closely
followed by what looked like a pair of leathery red wings.
screaming, the audience fled for the exits. The long neck snapped out; the
gaping jaws opened wide and suddenly someone had gone. The screaming
intensified; the doors were nearly ripped from their hinges.
on?" Buffy yelled. They appeared to be the only people not running away; they
stood, staring up in a kind of revolted awe, at the creature slithering through
the ceiling like a limbed snake.
dragon," Giles shouted back.
Does it breathe fire?"
"No, that's a
"Great, so how
do I kill it?"
said. "I think sometime soon would be good."
The dragon had
swung its head round to look at them. The eye blinked, and then its front legs
lumbered forward. It appeared that the dragon was in a wheelbarrow position,
and would have looked quite comical had it not been apparent that they were
about to be eaten; shuffling forward, the reptile tugged its hind legs and tail
through the hole, and landed on all fours with a resounding crash. Then it
shrieked at them, the force of breath from its gaping throat nearly knocking
up scaly," Buffy shouted, while frantically digging through her coat for a
stake, "You ruin my Christmas, I'll ruin your Christmas! One day the forces of
darkness will learn not to piss around with my vacations."
technically a force of darkness," Angel corrected her, rather inappropriately,
"Dragons are animals."
"I don't care
what it is, if it's dangerous, I kill it." Buffy's face blanched as she pulled
her hands from her empty pockets. "That is, allowing for the fact that I
haven't left my weapons at home."
suddenly burst open and a smart attendant rushed in. "Hey! What's going..." He
stopped dead in his tracks as the dragon whipped around to look at him, and the
man's voice tapered off in to a squeak as the dragon locked eyes with him.
There was a
blur on Angel's right and Buffy was gone, vaulting from the seats in to the
aisle, and ripping a heavy fire extinguisher off the wall. Charging around to
the dragon's front she gave a brief shout to attract its attention, and then
hurled the hefty metal cylinder with all her might. The fire extinguisher
curved through the air, and hit the dragon on the head with a resounding smack.
deafened by its shrieks of outrage, Buffy grabbed the frozen theatre attendant
and ran with him towards the door. It wasn't in her nature to run from a fight,
but taking on a reptile the size of a house with nothing but your fists and high
heels was not a good idea. She sensed Angel racing up alongside her, and
looked round to check that Giles was there too.
It seemed that
most of Westbury had gathered on the pavement outside and was staring up at the
colossal hole in the roof. Panting, hair flying all over the place, Buffy raced
out of the building to join them, and looked up at the roof. There was a heavy
thumping sound, like wings flapping, and the dragon exploded out of another
section of roof. No sooner had it hit the night air than it spread its vast
wings and dived for the ground; the crowd ducked and screamed, but the dragon
didn't seem to see them. It merely soared over their heads, flapped its wings
and disappeared in to the night. Behind it, gathered on the pavement on that cold
night, Buffy Summers was the only one left standing.
stretched out in Giles' leather study chair. The little people were gone and
the house was quiet. In fact, everyone had gone. Zillah pricked her soft
triangular ears slightly as a horse kicked at its stable door from outside;
then she stretched out her forelegs and curled up to go to sleep.
The study door
flung open and Giles came in, pursued by Buffy and Angel. They were talking
urgently about something; Zillah didn't worry about what it was, until Giles
started trying to tip her on to the floor. The cat got up, but wouldn't budge,
so in the end Giles just squashed up on the edge of the seat and Zillah
collapsed again behind him.
"How can this have
happened?" Angel was asking. "A dragon can't just land in a little town like
this, or people would notice."
and turned to Giles. "Is it possible that something like this could have come
from the Ouija board?"
thoughtfully polished his glasses. "I'm not sure. I would have thought not, but
I suppose... a dragon isn't a demon. As Angel so rightly said, it isn't an evil
being, merely a rather destructive, violent animal. I wouldn't have thought
that a dragon would reside in the same dimension as ghosts, but... it's certainly
a remarkable coincidence."
"And you know
I don't believe in those," Buffy replied. "Is there any way we can maybe trace
where it came from? Maybe there's a spell or something that will make the Ouija
board tell us what happened when it was used...?"
off, for Giles was shaking his head. "No. The only way to find out would be to
make a contact and ask."
There was a
small moment of silence. Angel, standing quietly in the dark corner, now moved
slightly and spoke. ""You're suggesting we use the board?"
here is a medium," Buffy pointed out. "Who's to say we won't just unleash
something else nasty? I mean, do we need to know how it got here, really? Why
can't I just kill it?"
rather like dogs, Buffy. One species group, but one which really houses rather
a wide variety of different creatures. And "dragon" is really a very loose
term. All dragons have their own particular weaknesses and behavioural
patterns. It would very much aid you if we could find out what breed it is and
where it came from. A dragon is not to be underestimated, Buffy."
"I get that,"
she said softly. "But if this board is going to be spewing out dragons left
right and centre? I'm the Slayer, Giles. My purpose is to protect innocent
people and rid the world of evil, and this could totally undermine that."
Giles sat up and adopted a stern expression. "Let's just leave the dragon to
wreak havoc up and down the country. Innocent people will be safe then, I
I say, why can't I just kill it?"
"For all we
know the dragon is not the only creature to breach our dimension! We need to
find out what happened and why."
around at Angel. He calmly met her gaze, and one look at him was enough to calm
her down so she could reply. She turned back to Giles and folded her arms as
she gave her last word.
out and everyone linked hands. They sat on the kitchen floor, in a circle around
the board. Buffy was uncomfortably aware of Angel's cold hand around hers, and
tried to focus on the board. Giles murmured the next stage and they all three
reached out and placed two fingers on the planchette. Giles began trying to ask
questions. Nothing happened for several minutes; Aristotle sat near by,
working, is it?" Buffy asked, after another long minute.
seem to be," Giles murmured, vague with concentration. "Maybe I'm doing it
wrong - "
He took his
hands off the board for a moment, and the Planchette began to swing.
arched his back and hissed. Angel shifted slightly, and Buffy looked up
wide-eyed at Giles. The moment the Planchette stopped, Giles was asking a
came back at once.
A keeper of
A keeper of
the Banished One.
Who or what
is the Banished One?
swung faster, moving from letter to letter so fast they could barely keep up.
Is it a
It is the
Why are you
I am the
for a moment before asking the question again; the spirit hadn't understood his
your connection to the Banished One?
It was I
who banished the Banished One, thus ridding the Hill of evil. As we were
connected in life, so we are in death.
What is the
resided at Croydon Hill in life.
Hill?" Angel said quietly. "That's in Somerset, not far from here."
and put his hands back to the board.
How did you
banish the beast?
to use a portal.
There was a
moment, and then the Planchette asked:
What is the
meaning of your questions?
Giles was beginning
to look uncomfortable; he was not unaware of the danger the board was
presenting, and he decided that that was enough. He merely said, Goodbye, and
closed the connection.
deep breaths, as if waking from a slumber.
Hill," Giles muttered to himself. He jumped up and hurried to his study; Buffy
and Angel followed, and watched as Giles hunted frantically through his books
for a moment.
Hill is home to a peculiar legend of unknown origins. The legend tells that,
once upon a time, a ploughboy was told of the story of Croydon Hill monster, a
devilish creature said to haunt the area. Upon visiting the hill, the ploughboy
was attacked by a "horned beast." He slashed at the creature with his plough blade
and ran away. The Devil has not been sighted since, although the hill is said
to be haunted by ghostly howls and moans, especially on dark stormy nights."
the book with a snap. "The Somerset area is beset with creature legends! A
local legend tells of Blue Bell, a fearsome dragon who was harnessed by the
"So what are
you saying?" Buffy asked uncertainly.
"That what the
Keeper guards is not the Devil, but a dragon. A dragon once resided on Croydon
Angel finished quietly, "That's now flying around Westbury?"
little boy released the spirit of the dragon, but I closed the connection
before the Keeper could follow."
"If it's just
a spirit," Buffy asked, "How come it's corporeally smashing buildings?"
because the dragon isn't dead," Giles said softly, talking slowly as he worked
out the puzzle. "Perhaps the dragon killed this Keeper during the banishing
process... and the Keeper took the dragon with him. Dragons can live for
centuries, and eat very little. The Keeper said that he and the dragon were connected
in death. But he never said the dragon was dead." Giles paused and
leaned on his desk. "And this Keeper cannot find peace... he's kept wandering the
ethereal plains by the dragon, because it still lives... it ties him here."
"So if I kill
the dragon, he can rest?"
"Is there any
other way?" Angel asked. He was clearly unhappy about the thought of Buffy
tackling a dragon.
"A portal, possibly."
Giles agitatedly polished his glasses. "That might sever the link between the
two spirits. The dragon and Keeper have always resided on the same plain,
mortal or otherwise. Perhaps it might be wise to set up a portal as backup,
Buffy. Angel is right -" clearly Giles had read Angel's anxiety as well - "this
dragon will be a formidable opponent for you."
"Good. Get on
that. Now, Giles; where can I find this lizard?"
it will head... well, home." Giles replied softly. "Fancy a trip to Croydon Hill,
It wasn't hard
to follow the dragon's trail. There seemed to be almost a straight line of
destruction; speeding down roads in Giles' car, Buffy peered out and saw
houses, crumpled to the ground like paper. Here and there fires had broken out,
and at one point they saw ambulances and several people lying on the ground. A
baby screamed as the car swept past.
backseat, Angel riffled quickly through books, sorting out the spell Giles
would need to open a portal. Portals were unpredictable, and Giles had no idea
which dimension he would be opening up. Buffy looked down at the glistening
broad sword on her lap and knew it didn't matter.
to slow down as they approached the hill. It was less an actual hill, and more
an expanse of flat, slightly curving ground. There were no buildings, no
people. It was perfect.
Buffy saw it
long before it saw them. Hard to miss, the creature was tramping around on the
ground, silhouetted against a weak moonlight. Giles stopped a good distance
away, and he silently got out the car and started setting up his ingredients a
short distance away. Standing on the slightly damp grass, Buffy heard Angel
getting out of the car to stand beside her - and as he squeezed out of the
vehicle, the sword he carried snagged on some Christmas decorations Giles had
left in his car. There was a long stream of plastic bells and they made a
tremendous clanging sound as they tipped out on to the grass. The dragon's head
snapped up and it stared straight at them; too startled to react immediately,
it merely stood and stared for a moment.
Buffy sighed and raised her sword. "It had to see us sooner or later."
darted to the left and started running.
She had to
keep the dragon away from Giles, and so she ran flat out around the dragon,
drawing its attention away to the north. Angel waited until it was focused on
her, and then ran the other way. Together they ran a great circle, the creature
spinning to follow Buffy, coming together to clash in the middle. The dragon's
tail slithered through the wet grass like a python as it turned on the spot,
its keen dark eyes fixed on the lithe girl, darting along like a little bug.
Then it moved.
The dragon had
a wide vision range and it suddenly saw Angel coming at it from the right.
Moving with incredible speed for a creature so cumbersome, it raced forward and
reared up on to its back legs, beating its wings and screeching. Angel dived
forward in to a roll and felt the heavy jaws snap at the air, exactly where he
had just stood.
suddenly there and she swung the sword. The point slashed a deep gash through
the tough skin on the dragon's leg and it staggered, falling heavily on to all
fours, before lumbering forward and flapping its wings to get in to the air.
Blood flying from its leg, the dragon flew higher and circled in the air before
coming down to land.
There was a
sudden burst of red sparks, and a flaming red portal opened in front of Giles.
The dragon whisked around to look - and saw Giles.
wings, the dragon screeched in outrage and launched itself straight at the
unprotected Englishman. The car was inbetween Buffy and Giles, but the doors
were open, and Buffy started running. Grabbing the sword close to her, she
dived in to the car and rolled straight out the other side - and in her fist
she clutched the string of Christmas bells. Running directly beneath the flying
creature, she swung the bells in to the air.
swooping towards the man, suddenly felt a sharp tug as something wrapped itself
around its legs; its flight wobbled and it screeched in alarm as it wavered of
course, directly towards a large copse of trees. The trees folded over like
matchsticks as the weight crashed in to them; the dragon ploughed straight
through and thumped to the ground. Staggering now, its legs bound tightly in
bells, the dragon flapped its wings and hopped a few feet in to the open. Buffy
set her jaw and began to walk forwards, sword in hand to finish it off, but
suddenly Angel was there.
He held her
back and they watched in silence, the portal rippling quietly in the
background. The dragon's dark scales gleamed in the moonlight as it slammed its
head in to the ground. Its horns and teeth ripped up soil, sending clumps of it
flying high in to the air. It screamed, beating its wings once more, and
slashing frantically at the earth, crying out all the while.
mesmerised, his hand gently gripping Buffy's shoulder. "It's looking for a
portal," he murmured. "It wants to go home, Buffy, it's... it's frightened."
And Buffy felt
her heart grow calmer, and she slowly let her sword fall in to the dirt and
balance there, and she and Angel backed quietly away. Giles joined them, and
they stopped a short distance away and watched. The dragon looked at them for a
long moment, and just for a second, Buffy was almost sure she could see
something in its blank eyes that was so much more than darkness. And then it
was gone and the dragon was in the air and flapping for the portal. The bells
jingled crazily, and there was a cascade of red sparks as the portal swallowed
the dragon and sealed itself. A light breeze ruffled the grass, and nothing
Lying in bed,
Timmy watched the night outside through his open bedroom window. He was
blinking sleepily, starting to drift off, when he heard a sort of jingling in
the far distance. Easing his little body out of bed, the young boy padded to
his window and stood on tiptoe to look out.
distance, he saw a spray of red sparks and a flash, and the jingling of bells
died away. A smile on his face, Timmy went back to bed, knowing that Santa was on
his way back home. Back to the North Pole, to start wrapping presents in time
for next Christmas.
The legend of
the beast on Croydon Hill is a true folktale. It was of course adapted to my
story, but it's basically true. A version of this fascinating legend can be
While the danger
of the Ouija board was of course somewhat exaggerated here - and it's rather
unlikely to give you dragons, granted - the Ouija board IS dangerous and should
not be used by inexperienced hands. If you attempt to use a board, please
always seek advice beforehand.