Summary: A mystery over 350 years old brings the
Project Paranormal team to Anwick.
They kept the flashlights off. Though the new moon
left the meadow in near total darkness and they were in danger of stumbling on
the uneven ground, not being spotted was worth the risk. Maguire had driven
them off twice already; this was their last chance. They'd never gotten this
far into the meadow before. From the road, it looked flat and smooth, like most
of the county. But towards the back of the field, near the fence line, there
was a small hillock. If they could just get to the other side of it, they'd be
out of sight and they could turn on the flashlights.
She found the small hill first. When she fell down it
with a thud and a curse that seemed too loud in the still winter air, the men
shot panicked looks back at the house, but there were no sudden lights or
shouts. Even the dogs didn't wake up.
Her light was bright enough to let them pick their way
down carefully. Once hidden from the road and the house, all three flashlights
were flicked on.
They may have inquired after her health; they may not
have. In either case, it wasn't long before all three lights played over the
snow-dusted soil, looking for some evidence that they were in the right place.
They found what they were looking for near the fence row. The winter wind had
tamped the long grass down a bit, but it was still noticeable, and it was the
first thing to catch their eyes. What held their attention, what they kept
their lights trained on was the boulder in the middle of the long grass.
Squat and grey, it looked out of place here. It would
blend in up in the hills or even in Scotland, but Lincolnshire had once been
nothing but marshes and was now flat and fertile.
The stone was just the marker though, nothing but "X
marks the spot". Three shovels bit into the heavy soil as one.
It took some squabbling, but eventually they settled
on a single hole, taking turns digging to fend off the cold and exhaustion. The
earth was just this side of frozen, thick and peaty. They were all sweating by
the time the stone shifted.
With one last strike of the shovel, the dirt collapsed
downward to reveal an underground hollow. One of the men reached into hole. It
was shallow, but long. He could feel cold, round objects with the tips of his
fingers, but he couldn't get enough purchase on them to pull them out.
Frustrated, he pulled his arm out and the shovelling
began again. The hole got wider, the stone got shakier until finally it fell
over and rolled a few feet down hill to rest against the fence. They didn't
seem to care, tossing the shovels away to reach into the hole, triumphantly
grasping the objects within.
Maybe if there had been a moon they would have seen
the shadow. Maybe if they weren't breathing so heavily they would have heard
the wing beats.
It landed heavily, but moved quickly. Its long neck
whipped around, knocking them off their feet. It rolled back, slashing with its
claws. The two men died silently, but she managed a brief scream before her
torso was torn open.
They never even saw the treasure they'd found.
"Days like this that I really miss California," Buffy
sighed. She pulled her scarf higher on her neck, and then buried her frozen
fingers in her coat pockets.
Giles smiled sympathetically at her as they trotted
across the field after Maguire. As they crested a small rise in the field,
Buffy and Giles could survey the entire scene.
"I'm sorry about the mess I've made. I started putting
things to rights as soon as the police let me." The ground was soggy and dark,
torn up by the treads of a tractor that stood near the fence line. "I filled in
the hole, pushed the stone back into place as much as I could. Just wouldn't be
right without the stone."
Exchanging rueful glances, Buffy and Giles moved downhill
towards the stone. There wouldn't be much left to point them in the right
direction. They walked around the stone a few times, and then returned to where
Maguire waited nervously on the hill. "Well, I'm afraid there's nothing much
left there for us," Giles said to the farmer. "Could you tell us what you found
when you came down here?"
Maguire swallowed hard before he started talking,
visibly shaken by his memories. "The dogs had been growling at the door while
we were still abed, but we ignored them. They'll growl if an animal comes into
the yard, if a car goes past on the road. But they kept growling while I got
dressed and got a bite to eat. As soon as I opened the door, they took off for
the back field, barking all the while. They wouldn't come when I called, so I
followed them down. Was a bit of a hike, but there's not much needing done in
the winter. I caught up to the dogs at the crest of this hill." Maguire paused
for a long moment, obviously uncomfortable recalling the things he'd seen a few
days earlier. "There were two or three sets of footprints coming across the
field. The stone was rolled away and had come to a rest against the fence.
There was a great hole dug in the dirt near where the stone should have stood.
A couple of shovels were tossed on the ground nearby. One of the shovels had a
splintered handle, like it'd been driven over. There was... you could tell
something terrible had happened. There weren't any bodies or even any bits of
bodies, but the soil was soaked with blood."
It wasn't the wind that made Buffy shiver this time.
She couldn't help but sympathize with Mr. Maguire's traumatic experience. She'd
seen far more blood and death than the farmer was describing, but she was the
Slayer. Witnessing death and its aftermath was part of the job. Maguire was
just an innocent bystander. He should never have had to see his fields soaked
in blood. He should never have had to start thinking about supernatural beings
killing people in his meadow. Buffy's brow wrinkled.
"Mr. Maguire," she asked, "why did you suspect there
was something unusual going on? I mean, most people try to avoid the paranormal
explanations for as long as possible. What made you so willing to bring us in?"
Maguire looked at Buffy sheepishly. "I guess I didn't tell
you what this is?"
Buffy looked at Giles at puzzlement, and then shook
her head at Maguire.
"It's the Drake Stone of Anwick."
Buffy let herself into the shadowy hotel room, pausing
to let her eyes adjust to the low light. Angel, however, had no problem seeing
despite the dimness as he looked up from his book with a smile. "You look rosy
"I feel like I should be pale as you," Buffy moaned,
stripping her outerwear off. She bent to take off her muddy boots, and then
moved across the carpet to kiss Angel and settle into his lap. She smiled at
him with a twinkle in her eyes. "You may not give off much warmth, but you do
give good cuddles." Angel chuckled deep in his throat and wrapped his arms
around her. Things may have gotten heated but for the knock at the door.
She grumbled as she got up, but managed a genuine
smile when she opened the door for Giles. The older man was laden with books
and came in quickly to set his burden carefully on the bed.
"Did Buffy tell you what we learned from Maguire
today, Angel?" Giles asked without preamble.
"Didn't get a chance to, Giles." Buffy smiled slyly at
Angel. "I was just starting to get warmed up."
"It was dreadfully windy out there wasn't it?" Giles
said distractedly. His books organized to his liking, he began to describe
their meeting with the farmer to Angel, and then moved on to the latter part of
"After meeting Maguire, we went to the police station
here in town before returning to the hotel. Ian's friend was extremely helpful,
providing copies of the crime scene photos and telling us more about the three
missing young people. I can't imagine what Ian must have told him to make him
so agreeable." He laid two large photographs on the bed for Angel to examine. "Buffy
was clever enough to ask Maguire if he had a photo of the location in more ...
normal circumstances." He then laid a smaller photograph alongside the others.
It showed children flying kites in the meadow. The stone, surrounded by long
grass, was in the background. "I'm afraid this is the best picture he could
find, but at least it is something."
"Wide hole, but it seems fairly shallow," Angel mused.
"Did the stone just roll downhill or was it pushed?"
"We didn't notice any marks on it when we were out
there, and neither Maguire nor Michael mentioned anything." Giles bent to
examine the police photos more closely. "Have you a theory?"
"What if there was something hiding underneath, that
pushed the stone out of the way to get to dinner."
"Well, if the police's guess about why the victims
were out there is true, the only thing under the stone is treasure." Angel
looked up at Buffy with interest. "The three missing people, Susan Wall, Tony
Underwood and Neil Jardin had a reputation as treasure hunters. They'd found
some treasure belonging to some king a few miles from here."
"They found some silver pieces out by the Wash," Giles
filled in. "It was obviously old, so they believed it was some of the treasure
lost to the tide when King John was crossing the marsh in 1216. They didn't
take it to a reputable appraiser though, so there's no telling what they
actually found." The three victims may have been killed tragically, but Giles's
distaste was palpable. He couldn't approve of their mercenary view of history.
"Anyway, it inspired them, and they billed themselves
as treasure hunters. They started searching for other old stories about
treasure in the area, and came across the story of the Drake Stone."
"Drake Stone?" Angel asked "Ducks or dragons?"
Buffy grinned. "Dragons, apparently, although slaying
ducks might be a nice change of pace."
"Except if they needed slaying, they would be
dangerous killer demon ducks," Angel teased.
Giles smiled at their banter, but quickly got them
back on track. "The story goes that a farmer was ploughing his fields when his
oxen and plough were suddenly swallowed up by a hole in the earth. The farmer
tried to save his animals, but was unable to. Then a dragon emerged from the
hole, which just as suddenly closed up behind him. A stone the shape of the
dragon's head appeared on the spot. Rumour has it that the dragon was guarding
an immense treasure when it was disturbed."
"These kids thought there was a dragon treasure?"
Angel asked in disbelief.
"Well, it seems they came to the conclusion that the
dragon was an invention to protect the treasure. Scare tactics, if you will.
However, they apparently believed the treasure was a reality," Giles explained.
"They went out into the middle of a field that had a
big rock in it and started digging for treasure, and then something ate them."
"The police aren't suggesting they were eaten. They
just assume they were killed and taken away. Or one of the three killed the
other two. Or two of them killed one," Giles clarified.
"There's something else bothering you," Angel
said. "Why all the books? What are you looking for?" He picked up one up
and started thumbing through it. It wasn't their usual fare; there weren't any
demons or paranormal events in here. Instead he found himself looking at a
local history book from the town library.
"It was Ian's friend Michael's suggestion, actually,"
Giles said. "There's no explanation as to why the treasure hunters picked that
particular stone to dig under. The stone isn't visible from the road, so the
police don't even know how the three young people discovered it. They do know
the kids were determined to get back there. They approached Maguire to ask for
access once and were refused, and Maguire found them trespassing and drove them
off a week or so later. The police are hoping we can replicate their research
and provide answers to some of these questions."
Buffy picked up one of the books Giles had piled on
the bed and settled in with a sigh. "I think I know what Ian told Michael: give
them lots of research to do or they're liable to do something strange."
"So the Drake Stones are near the churchyard?" Buffy
asked in confusion. They'd been reading for several hours and instead of things
becoming clearer, it was considerably murkier. "And there are two of them?"
"But that isn't their original location," Giles said.
"And they were apparently broken when they were moved from a field called
‘Drake Stone Close'."
"And the stone was called the Drake stone because it
was shaped like a duck's head. So it may have nothing to do with dragons after
all," Angel finished with a sigh.
"Well, we know why our treasure hunters didn't start
digging up the churchyard," Buffy said. "I don't feel any closer to knowing why
they chose Maguire's field, though. The stone was moved - it wasn't a marker
Angel looked up suddenly. "What about land ownership?
The county office keeps track of all land transfers. If the dragon victims had
a name for the farmer who lost his oxen, all they'd have to do is find out
where his property was."
Giles was already moving towards the telephone. A
quick search of the phone book gave him the number to dial. He just hoped there
was someone to take his call.
He was in luck. Not only was there someone to take his
call, a little bit of polite chatting revealed that it was the same woman who'd
helped Susan Wall with her research three weeks earlier. She was more than
happy to tell Giles all about the old map on the wall of her office that had
‘Drake Stone Close' marked in pencil by some ancient unknown hand.
"So Susan told your friend in the county office that
she was researching historic folk names for landmarks in the area, and easily
got the name of the current owner," Angel said. "That's actually pretty
"So we know why Maguire and why that field. Why the
stone?" Buffy asked.
"There was one more bit of information that ‘my
friend' shared with me. The Maguire family has owned that property for
generations, well into the early 1600's. The Drake Stone story dates from about
1651 - I think Mr. Maguire may know more than he is letting on."
"I really like winter," Angel said, pushing the
blanket off and following Buffy and Angel from the car. At 4:45, the sun had
just set and they had just arrived at the Maguire's home.
Giles's knock at the door was immediately answered by
a short but buxom woman with a welcoming smile. She quickly invited them in,
chattering about the cold weather and offering tea. As they all refused her
offer, Mr. Maguire appeared in the doorway. He shook Buffy and Giles's hands
with no sign of the upset they'd seen that morning in the field. After Angel
was introduced and Mrs. Maguire excused herself to look after supper, Giles
came right to the point.
"Mr. Maguire, you called the stone in your field the
Drake Stone. Our research tells us the Drake Stone was moved into town in the
1800's. We also know that your family owned this plot of land before the
alleged appearance of the dragon. You obviously know a lot more than you are
Maguire settled back in his chair with a defeated
sigh. "I should've known I couldn't keep it a secret anymore, after what happened
to those foolish treasure hunters. But the true story of the Drake Stone has
been part of our family for over 350 years, and I didn't want to be the one to
spread the tale before it was needed.
"The basics of the story are as the books tell it. A
farmer, a direct ancestor of mine, was ploughing and watched in horror as his
animals were swallowed by the earth. But that horror was nothing to the fear he
felt when... something flew out of the hole. He didn't linger, didn't watch to
see where it went; he just ran for home.
"'Twas his wife who returned the next day to find the
hole closed and solid, marked by a huge stone. She knew these fields as well as
her husband. She knew that stone should not have been there. She hadn't
believed her husband the night before, suspecting him of laziness or
drunkenness, but she couldn't deny the truth of her eyes, the truth she could
see in the light of day.
"Still, she was a pragmatic woman. She wasn't about to
let the stone ruin a perfectly serviceable field. She insisted that her husband
borrow a set of oxen from his brother and drag the stone out of the field. She
even followed the two men into the field to ensure he did as she demanded. The three
of them fastened the oxen to the stone and started to pull it from the field.
It was terribly heavy, stuck deeply in the earth. It had just barely moved when
the monster returned.
"The oxen panicked, breaking loose from their yoke and
running off. The farmer and his brother threw themselves on the ground, hiding
their faces. The farmer's wife stood and simply stared. She was the only one
who saw it closely, but she was never able to describe it, for the thing
attacked her with teeth and claws, leaving nothing but soil soaked with blood.
"The two men told their tale again and again, until
the story of the Drake Stone was known throughout the county. No one ever
understood where the story of the treasure came from though. Neither man ever
spoke of treasure, only of the dragon, the stone and the blood. However, soon
the story of the treasure became as much a part of the legend as the stone.
"These three were not the first fortune hunters to
come looking for the stone, just the first in my lifetime. For nearly three
hundred years we'd driven off treasure hunters, protecting their families from
the return of the dragon. It wasn't until my own grandfather was farming this
land that a far better plan was devised. In 1913 he built the hillock to
prevent the stone from being seen. Then he found another stone, similar in size
and shape, and dragged it to town. He told the town council he'd finally
removed the stone, and suggested they set up it up in town as a bit of
England's folklore and mythological history. Everyone readily believed that
he'd removed the stone, and the story of the treasure died away, until those
three young people came and asked for access to my meadow. It may have been a
long time ago, but we take our family oath to protect the Drake Stone
seriously. And after what happened last week, it seems that we do so for good
"Thank you Mr. Maguire. I know it must have been a
difficult story for you to tell. But we can make it so you needn't worry about
treasure hunters any longer. With your permission, we'll go into the meadow
tonight and destroy the creature. Once that is done, you and your family
need not worry about it ever again," Giles offered.
Maguire sat silently for long moments. "There's more
to it than that, and this time I'm afraid it's my fault. I fear I may have
inherited my many-greats grandmother's curiosity. When I discovered the stone
rolled away and the enormous hole those fools dug, I called the police. But as
I waited, I couldn't resist reaching into the hole to see if the story of the
treasure was as true as the story of the dragon."
Buffy couldn't resist a whispered aside to Angel. "And
people wonder why we have so much work." Angel's lips twitched in response, but
he managed to restrain his grin. Fortunately, Maguire didn't see them
whispering as he reached for a cardboard box that had been sitting on the cold
hearth in the room. He lifted it to his lap and opened the flaps before he
started speaking again.
"The hole didn't go terribly deep before it opened
into a long narrow cavern under the stone. It was fairly wide though. I kept
expecting the dragon to swoop out of the sky and destroy me as I pulled these
out." With that, Maguire carefully lifted a dark grey oval object out of the
box and passed it to Giles. "There were three of them. The other two are still
in the box."
Giles examined it closely. The oval was large and
heavy enough that he had to handle it with both hands. One end was wider than
the other, and the colour which had seemed uniformly charcoal in Maguire's
hands was obviously mottled browns and greys mixed together when seen up close.
He passed it to Buffy to look at. She only took a cursory glance before passing
it to Angel.
"It's an egg," Angel said flatly, startling them all.
"There's something alive in there."
Maguire sighed again. "That's what I feared. When I
got them back here and cleaned them a little, they sort of put me in mind of an
oversized goose egg. Suppose I can understand why she's so protective now. It
has lead me in circles; a decision I don't know how to make. She's dangerous,
that's more than plain. She's tied my family to this land for centuries, trying
to protect people from her. But she's just protecting her young and she's
probably the last of her kind. The eggs haven't hatched yet; don't know if
they'll ever. But it could be some creatures aren't meant to live in this
world. It's all beyond me. So I'll grant you permission to go down to the site
and do what you think should be done. And you can let me know afterwards if I
still need to keep an eye on the Drake Stone."
Buffy, Angel and Giles looked at each other, their own
hesitation to make this decision obvious on their faces.
Since it was dark and there was no need to protect
Angel from the sun, Buffy offered him the seat up front, which was far more
comfortable for someone of his size. When she offered it though, she hadn't
realized it would mean sitting beside the box of... the box. Her mind shied
away from admitting the contents, from dealing with the decision they'd have to
make. The silence in the car suggested Angel and Giles were in the same straits
as she was.
The trip wasn't nearly long enough, in Giles opinion.
He wasn't ready to have this conversation, to make this decision. But the trip
couldn't last forever, and he gingerly carried the box back upstairs. By
unspoken agreement, they all went to Angel and Buffy's room, the books still
scattered on every flat surface reminding them of their earlier research and
the pride they'd felt in their success at following the treasure hunter's
There was no pride now.
No matter what their decision was, there were
potential side effects. Maguire's words had made the dragon understandable in
the way that any animal, faced with the loss of habitat and threat to their
offspring, was understandable. And understanding made it far more difficult to
It was Buffy who finally broke the silence. "This
isn't a panda or a tiger we're talking about. This is a mythological creature
which has killed people. Probably ate them. It's a creature which is nearly
impossible for the average person to defend against and definitely impossible
to control. We can't just relocate it and hope for the best." Buffy took a deep
breath. "I vote for extinction."
"It may have killed people, but only in defence of its
young. And four people in nearly 400 years? That's hardly significant," Giles
"But it has only killed four people because
generations of Maguires have spent their lives keeping people away," Buffy
said. "The loss of their freedom is probably pretty significant to the Maguire
"What about ecological and paranormal balance? Who
knows what other animals and forces this creature is connected to? Destroying
it could potentially create even greater damage."
"No more Al Gore movies for you," Buffy muttered. "If
this is the last dragon, I think all the ecological damage has already been
done. I suspect the world will survive without it. But what if these eggs
hatch, what if the world suddenly has to accommodate a new species? I don't
know if the world is ready for that. I know humanity isn't. Haven't you seen Reign
Neither Buffy nor Giles swayed from their argument,
but neither of them wanted to win. No one knew the right answer, so they each
took a side and stayed with it, postponing the actual moment of decision. It
was up to Angel to break the tie.
"I've actually fought a dragon."
Buffy and Giles looked at him in surprise. They'd
nearly forgotten Angel's presence, and his interruption stopped them in their
tracks. They knew about the dragon, of course. Angel had told Giles in detail
about the battle in Los Angeles, and Giles had shared his notes with Buffy. Of
course, Angel had kept his thoughts and feelings mostly private. The feelings
of loss were still strong.
"It was an incredible battle. It was nearly
impossible, even for me. It would have been easier without the demon army that
was also trying to kill me, of course." Angel smiled deprecatingly. "But that
situation has little to do with this one. That dragon was actively trying to
kill me. It was a life or death situation. I don't think this is."
Angel leaned forward, his earnestness obvious in body
and voice. "The Maguire family made a choice to defend the stone. Yes, it was
made almost 400 years ago and subsequent generations have felt bound by that
choice, but it's still a choice. They could walk away. They could sell the land,
placing that burden on someone else's shoulders. Maguire could have told us to
slay the dragon and destroyed the eggs himself. He didn't. He is still willing
to accept responsibility for protecting people from the dragon. I say we let
him continue as they have for centuries." Angel paused. "Of course, if this
dragon starts attacking for no good reason, we take it out as soon as
Since a consensus hadn't been reached until late in
the night, they agreed to put off returning the eggs until the next evening.
They all slept in the next morning, and Buffy and Angel took advantage of the
respite to finish what they'd started before Giles interrupted them for
research. While Angel waited out the day by sketching and reading in the hotel
room, Buffy and Giles went out for lunch and poked around Anwick for a couple
of hours. It was a cute little village, with the streets lined by brick
buildings. By mutual consent, Buffy and Giles's walk took them to St. Edith's,
the church that boasted the false Drake Stones on the edge of the property.
The grass around these stones had been closely
trimmed, unlike the long grass that had been allowed to grow up in Maguire's
field. There was no sign to mark them, but a passing local stopped to tell them
the tale, patting the stones fondly as he bid them goodbye and went into the
"They certainly seem proud of the Drake Stones," Giles
commented as they headed back to the hotel.
Buffy was pretty sure she knew why. "As pretty as the
town is, you can see there isn't much by way of tourist trade. It's just too
small and too out of the way. The Drake Stones are probably the only draw they
"Just as well that the locals don't know the stones
are fraudulent, then," Giles said with a smile.
They left for the field just after sunset. With the
decision made, there was much less tension in the car for this trip. Instead of
disturbing the Maguire's, they parked on the road. Despite having to clamber
over the fence and carefully pass the box of eggs across, the walk through the
field was much shorter, though Buffy still complained about the cold. It was
just as well the walk was shorter, as they were burdened with shovels, weapons
and the box of eggs. Though they were returning the eggs to their proper
location, Angel and Buffy were still well armed, just in case.
"I wonder what the dragon looks like?" Giles mused,
hoping to get Buffy's mind off the cold. "I wonder if the pictures in books are
"They seem like such magnificent creatures. I know I
took the extinction side of the argument, but I'm kind of glad we decided to
let it live," Buffy said.
Angel didn't take part in the conversation flowing
around him. Talking about Los Angeles had brought a lot of memories to mind,
many of them uncomfortable. He couldn't regret his choices though; without his
past he wouldn't have this present. He smiled at Buffy as she talked animatedly
to Giles. Being here was definitely worth it.
The ground had frozen and was compacted from Maguire's
tractor. Despite their strength, Buffy and Angel had to take turns digging.
Giles offered to help, but they smilingly refused, telling him to guard the
eggs and watch the skies, though the lack of moon made that pointless. Instead
he watched them dig and listened to their teasing. Each claimed to have a
better technique for digging and pointed to the ever- growing pile of dirt as
Eventually they got deep enough that the cavern was
"I wonder why the cavern didn't collapse or fill in
when Maguire was moving dirt around?" Buffy asked. She was standing guard,
sword at the ready while Angel lay on his chest to return the eggs to their
"It must be magic," Giles teased.
Job finished, Angel pushed himself up from the cold
ground. He pushed heavily on the stone to get himself out of the hole... and it
teetered. It rolled. It didn't roll far, but it rolled.
And something dropped out of the sky.
Buffy and Angel sprang into action. Buffy leapt for
the beast while Angel rolled away from its slashing claws towards his own
sword. Giles moved out of the way, making sure his torch didn't shine in
anyone's face. The creature moved quickly, and Buffy and Angel needed all their
Buffy slashed at its hide, but the sword bounced off
with a dull sound. The dragon spun around, biting at her with its long neck,
but Buffy had already gone, vaulting over its back.
"The body is pretty well armoured," she shouted at
Angel as he attacked. "We need to find its weak spot!"
"Eyes are usually a good bet," he returned. Faking a
strike towards the chest, Angel lured it into lowering its head, and then
stabbed at one of its eyes before dancing quickly away. The high-pitched shriek
of anger and pain let them know it was a successful tactic. However, the dragon
wasn't beaten yet. It lumbered towards Angel, using its one good eye to watch
him. Angel kept moving back, striking out to keep its attention on him. It never
noticed Buffy's attack on its blind side.
She struck up from underneath, as if she was batting
at a cricket ball. The sword penetrated deeply through the unprotected
underside of the neck, sending great gouts of blood into the air. She left her
sword embedded in the neck, and twisted away to avoid its death throes.
The three of them watched as the dragon flailed and
writhed. Finally it dropped to the ground, breathing its last.
They looked at it for long moments. Finally Angel
spoke. "It looks nothing like the dragon I fought. It looks nothing like any
dragon I've seen in books."
"It looks like... a dangerous killer demon duck."
Angel and Giles had to grin as Buffy reminded them of their conversation of two
The dragon had a squat little body. Its head, now
lying at an awkward angle, balanced on a long sinuous neck. It didn't have a
beak, but its snout was long and its mouth was filled with vicious teeth. The
feet weren't webbed, but were birdlike and ended in long sharp talons. The tail
was stubby and ended in a knob. The wings were large and very duck-like, right
down to the long feathers.
"Well, I don't know what that was, but I think we'd
better get rid of it before Maguire sees it," Giles said.
Buffy and Angel grimaced. That meant a lot more
The following morning, Buffy and Giles made one last
trip out to the Maguire farm. Again, they were greeted by the cheerful Mrs.
Maguire who settled them comfortably with cups of tea while they waited for an
opportunity to tell Mr. Maguire of the previous night's activity in private.
"I know I put you in a hard spot," Maguire
finally said. "It was a decision I was too weak to make myself, so I appreciate
you taking the matter on. It'll be nice to not have to worry so much about the
dragon attacking my family. I'll be sure to keep an eye on the Drake Stone
though, make sure the eggs don't hatch. Seems the Maguire's are bound to that
rock, even if our duties have changed some," he mused. "Tell you the truth, I'm
glad of it. It's been part of our family for so long that I'd hate to lose the
"If anything does happen with the eggs, don't hesitate
to call us," Giles said, passing a card to Maguire. "We'll be more than happy
to help you take care of it."
They sat a few minutes longer, talking and finishing
their tea before Maguire stood. "I'd best be taking my tractor back there to
bury the beast. I've always wondered what it really looks like," he said
Buffy disguised her laugh as a cough as Giles assured
Maguire that they'd taken care of disposing of the body. It may have been a
fierce fighter, but it certainly wouldn't live up to Maguire's mental image of
Angel waited at the hotel for Buffy and Giles to
return. They'd gone to the police station to give their research to Ian's
friend Michael, carefully couched in terms of tracing the research of the three
treasure hunters. There was nothing they could do beyond that; the police
certainly wouldn't accept that the three had been killed by a dragon.
While he waited, he thought about the three eggs he'd
hidden in the ground the night before. They'd been there for almost 400 years
without hatching. Yet he could tell the beasts within were still alive, still
growing and waiting for their moment. Who knew how many more years it would be
before they emerged, or if they ever would. Still, he suspected a Maguire would
still be there, watching and waiting. Needing help. Reaching for a little white
card that said Project Paranormal. Who would be available to take that call?
Would Giles still be thrusting research on them? Would Buffy still be by his
side? Or would it be so far in the future that he was once again alone?
The prospect disturbed him. But as the door opened to
admit a smiling Buffy, he pushed it from his mind. They were here now, and that
was all that mattered.
Small but avid faces looked up at Maguire as he once
more told their family folklore to his grandchildren. Their parents looked on
indulgently. They'd heard this story many times before. Today, however, the
ending was different. Heroes came from the west to slay the dragon.
"We Maguires spent nearly 400 years protecting the
world from the dragon, waiting for someone who could rid us of this beast.
Waiting to be free of our oath. Today we are free of danger, but we must still
be vigilant. For now we know what the dragon was guarding: its eggs, waiting
for their moment. Waiting for us to drop our guard. But we are Maguires! We shall
remain ever present, ever vigilant! As the dragon's treasure allows us to
protect our home and our livelihood, so shall we guard the dragon's nest."
And the pile of centuries old gold and jewels glinted
from its opened hiding spot: the false back on the cold hearth.
Information on the Drake Stones of Anwick:
(scroll down halfway, it begins "At the nearby village of Anwick,..."