Project Paranormal
:: Cover page :: Intro story :: Season 1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: Lost Files :: Links :: Contact


The Seven Dwarfs

Project Paranormal

Author: Ares

Season 3

Part 19




Summary: Buffy isn't Snow White, but she meets the Seven Dwarfs anyway.




The Seven Dwarfs




"What do you think?" Buffy asked the woman in front of her.


Alice was sitting before the dressing table in her bedroom. Buffy was standing behind her chair with an anxious look in her eyes. Alice stared at herself in the mirror and laughed. Buffy had worked wonders, Giles' salve having helped the underlying cause. She turned her face to and fro, studying her features. The American girl knew her make up. Alice's face looked human again. The foundation and skin blemish cream hid her demony attributes. She quite liked the eye shadow the girl had smoothed on her lids. It was very subtle and befitting a woman of her years. She batted her lashes. One would think she was only one hundred and not the two hundred she really was. She put a hand up to pat her hair. The hand was encased in pretty lace. Buffy had found a couple of pairs of lovely fingerless gloves that fitted her. They allowed her freedom to work. The pretty fabric hid from view the scales that had begun to show on the back of her hands.


Alice touched her hair. The wig was perfect. The hair was long enough to hide the scales at the back of her neck. She would only need the wig until her own locks grew out. On the other hand, she liked the colour, and wearing a wig meant less time spent in styling her own hair. Maybe she would keep the wig...for special occasions anyway. Alice chuckled.


"You like?" the girl beside her asked, relieved.


"I do, Buffy, I do." Alice turned her head back and forth trying to see the back of her head. Buffy held up a mirror so she could see.


Alice smiled in delight. "This is perfect. You could do make up professionally."


"You'll be able to go into the village now, if only for quick errands."


"Thank you, you've all been so kind."


Buffy smiled back at her. "Think nothing of it."





A couple of days later, John and Martha were at Alice's home. John was outside watching - Martha thought, supervising - British Telecom installing a pole for the telephone. It had taken weeks to organise, and the alacrity of the response had astounded them all. They had heard horror stories of months, even years before a pole appeared.


John stood against the side of the house out of harm's way. Martha was inside with Alice, both women no doubt passing the time with small talk. Gossip, more like. The women didn't want to deal with the linesmen and he didn't blame them. He was there to handle the details. He shook himself mentally. Life had certainly become interesting when Rupert Giles had arrived home from the colonies, dragging his other life with him. Or rather, his other life came looking for him. And talking of dragging, the vampire had looked like something the cat brought in after a night out when Rupert and the lass had come back from Los Angeles.


They were good people, no doubt about it. Martha was fiercely protective of that household and John had to admit that he too felt that way.





"It's not far," Buffy insisted.


If she got any closer, Buffy would be fined for parking the Mini on the footpath. Angel peered through the window, hat, gloves, long coat on, and his umbrella ready to fend off the rain that pelted the window. Rain had its advantages, especially for a vampire enduring too long sunny days of summer, and a vampire who had no calms about looking a prat under an umbrella. Humans did it all the time, and on Buffy's insistence, he was going to, too.


Angel had sat for hours with Buffy's laptop in his pursuit of just the right computer for Alice. The internet promised thousands of sites that offered technical advice about the PC, and the buying thereof. He knew how much Alice was prepared to pay and wanted the best her money could buy. He knew he wasn't exactly au fait with modern technology but some how he didn't have much trouble finding his way around a computer.


He had settled for what he thought would be just the right equipment when Buffy suggested he buy from the local computer shop situated in the new part of Westbury. That way, Buffy said, when Alice needed technical support the local guy was right on her doorstep. Bits and Bytes the store was called. Angel had called the technician and owner, Brent Danvers, who helped him decide on the best possible choice over the phone.


He sighed. Here he was contemplating a mad dash into the computer store, in the rain, on a grey day, because Buffy had insisted that she was out of her depth with it all. God, he was whipped! A smirk decorated his lips. Life can surprise you. He opened the car door, and even though his faster than human reflexes went into play, he got wet before the umbrella opened. At least the water soothed the burst of heat he felt prickle along his exposed skin. He dare not grumble. Buffy was struggling with her umbrella on her side of the car. And she had further to run. They ran.




Angel was being watched. He glanced over to the chair in which a black and white cat sat. Her green eyes were intent on his every move. Another pair of feline eyes was watching him from the armrest of the small sofa. Daisy and Poppy, the cats were called. Buffy had had the pleasure of ferrying the cats to the vets, a chore that Buffy never wanted to do again. That day they had been very vocal. Tonight, they were silent as they studied this new stranger and his activities. There were boxes on the floor and the cats had made a thorough investigation. Their new found fun had palled when they discovered a different game, and watching the stranger untangle yards of wiring was much more interesting. They scrutinised his every move. They wanted to be sure he knew what he was doing. He wasn't too sure himself. Angel turned back to the task in hand, putting together Alice's new computer. The shop had installed all the necessary software, leaving it to Angel to put the hardware together. Giles had kindly accepted the delivery of the boxes that morning, ferried them over to Alice's, and now the vampire was trying to put it all in working order. Alice had a modem which was going to connect her to the rest of the world, and the software to protect her against viruses and intruders wanting to spy into her cyber world. The keyboard was easy, as was the printer. He found the appropriate ports without too much trouble. He hoped the rest would...


His phone rang. It was Buffy. She and Giles would be picking him up in twenty minutes, and she was packing a few clothes for him just in case. There was an emergency, and she would explain when she saw him.


Angel found Alice making a pot of tea in the kitchen. There were two cups and a plate of biscuits ready on a beautiful wooden tray.


He smiled in apology. "I'm sorry, Alice, I have to go. Giles and Buffy are on their way." He had walked the distance to Alice's. Angel didn't want to have his car seen outside the woman's cottage, and he always enjoyed stretching his legs after a day confined indoors.


"Oh, that's a shame, Angel," she said, disappointed.


Alice didn't know Angel well, if at all, and she had found he didn't say much. This was the first time he had entered her home. After turning up a few weeks ago and introducing himself, he had offered to clear her back yard and garden, and chop her firewood. The copse of trees that encroached into her yard did lend itself to fallen limbs and the like, and Alice gratefully accepted his offer. A brief conversation it had been. She had thought it odd that Angel was outside in the dark tending to those chores, but shrugged it off when she realised he must have his own job to see to during the day. It overwhelmed her, a little, the kindness of Giles, Martha, and John and their young friends.


Alice had left Angel to his own devices sorting out the computer, leaving the cats to stand guard. The computer was going on the desk she used for writing letters and sorting out her bills. It stood against the window where she could glance out into her back yard. If she was going to be spending more time indoors, that meant less time in the garden, and Alice loved her garden. She vowed not to let it go to ruin now that the spadework had been done.


"Are you sure you don't have time for a spot of tea? When will they be here?"


Angel relented. He could keep the woman company for a few minutes.


"I guess I could do with a cup of tea. No biscuits though."


Alice decided she liked him. There was something about the man. The cats hadn't objected, and they knew a person. They were wary, but hadn't gone running or hissing at him when he had appeared at her door. She relied on her cats' intuition.





Mary Quick had rung Giles' number asking for Angel. Buffy having taken the call, recognised the woman's name and had reintroduced herself; Mrs Quick already guessing it was she from her accent.


A young man was missing, and the police, and search and rescue were still combing the area. He had disappeared in the small village where Mary lived. Zennor. Mary believed that the lad hadn't wandered off and drowned, nor had fallen from the cliffs there. His grandmother, who had been with him shortly before he disappeared, was very distraught. Mary had asked for their help, thinking that the unlucky young man would benefit from someone who dealt in the paranormal. Time being of the essence, and with Giles at the wheel, they had beaten a hasty departure towards the Cornwall coast.


Buffy looked out the window wishing the traffic wasn't so horrendous and wanting to be there already. She heaved a sigh. They weren't in the business of hunting for missing persons, but Mary had suggested there was more than met the eye in this case, and here they were. Angel sat beside her thinking about the young man and his grandmother. He couldn't remember his grandmother. When he was alive people didn't live long enough to see their grandchildren, and if they did, odds were the babies did not survive into adulthood. He couldn't help but wonder, if he had been one of those who had died from one of the many childhood ailments that ran rampant in those times, how much better for the world would it have been. He sat there in silence, thinking on it. Buffy's hand found his, and squeezed. She rested her head against his shoulder, ever looking out the window, offering him her support and her love. He felt his chest tighten with the force of her love. It was impossible but he could almost swear it had happened. He laid his chin upon her head and tried not to brood.


"Almost there," Giles said to his silent friends, wanting to be past the van that had turned from a side street and into the space he always allowed between him and the vehicle in front. He gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to toot his horn.






Almost there, had been a couple of hours ago. Angel had taken over the driving to give Giles a chance to sleep. It was late, early morning, when they arrived in Zennor. There was no parking outside Mary Quick's granite home. Angel continued down the narrow road and pulled up in the empty ground that served as a parking lot. There were one or two other vehicles there already. Buffy wondered if they belonged to the residents or to the search and rescue team.


Mary was expecting them and had the kettle ready. She served tea and buttered and jammed scones in her parlour, insisting on it after such a long and arduous journey. They could refresh themselves and hear her story just as well as not, she said.  They accepted, even though the three of them were desperate to get out and start looking for the missing man.


A grey tabby meandered into the room and made the rounds of sniffing everyone's legs. It stopped at Angel and, recognising his scent, jumped into his lap.


"Wesley remembers you," Mary chuckled, watching as her cat settled on his thighs. A pale hand reached up and tickled the cat's chin. It lifted its head, insisting on more. Its purr filled the room.


"Wesley?" Both Buffy and Giles asked, eyeing up the cat. Buffy had spied the cat on their first visit but hadn't been introduced.


"The Minister," Mary answered.


"Wesley was a minister?" Buffy asked, perplexed. "When did that happen?"


"John Wesley preached here in the 1700s," Mary said, misunderstanding her.


Giles looked across at Angel. The vampire was too intent on the cat. Giles knew that Wyndham-Pryce and Angel had become close friends. He stepped into the conversation.


"The young man, Mrs Quick?"


"Mary, please. The young man's name is Elliot Branch. I believe he is in his mid-twenties. His grandmother, Miriam, is his legal guardian. Apparently, they are here with a tour on a weekend sightseeing trip."


"Where do they come from, do you know?" Giles asked.


"I think Tom said London. Your young friends remember my brother Tom, Tom Berryman?" She looked for confirmation from Buffy and Angel. Getting a nod, she continued, "The Tinners Arms is his place. Mrs Branch has been put in a spare room for the night."


"City folk," Giles commented. "Tell us what happened."


Mary sipped at her tea, her lips dry. She had been worried about ringing the nice young man that had left his card a year ago. He and his lady friend had been very polite when they last had met, and had left the Witches' Rock hoax alone for others to expose. Besides, the card had declared that they did have expertise in the paranormal, and she was sure that this was one of those times that their services were needed. She had swallowed her fear of being considered a loon, and had called.


 "As I said, Mrs Branch and her grandson are here with a tour," Mary explained. "Apparently, Elliot has suffered a brain injury."


Buffy asked, "The grandson has brain damage?"


Mary nodded. "Not severe like some. He is a little ‘slow' but mostly able to fend for himself."


"Do you know how slow?" Giles asked because that could make a big difference.


"Miriam, the grandmother, says he's a regular teen the way he behaves," Mary said, sipping her tea. "It's a sad tale, really. Miriam's daughter was into drugs and the boy got hurt. Abused, I think, Tom said. The boy hasn't been the same since."


No one said a word, but Buffy, Angel, and Giles were thinking that here they were constantly saving the world from monsters and the like, and here was evidence of another kind of monster.


Mary continued her tale. "She and Elliot, along with the rest of their group, took in a tour of the Rosevale Mine."


"The grandmother was able enough to scramble through a mine?" Angel asked, still stroking the cat.


Mary chuckled at his question. "Not all of us get old and doddery in our advancing years. Mrs Branch is quite the fit lady. She is hitting seventy and has a lot of life left in her yet."


Angel thought about that. The aging population these days certainly were fitter than those back in the day. Modern medicine, a good diet and exercise did lend itself to prolonging the onset of decrepitude.


"Did Elliot get lost in the mine?" Buffy asked around a mouthful of delicious scone.


Mary shook her head. "Mrs Branch saw him eating an ice cream down at the museum after the mine tour. When next she looked he was gone. She wasn't too bothered at first, he can look after himself."


Buffy had visited the museum on her last visit. It was full of old mining tools, and offered teas and refreshment too. She remembered a blacksmith's workshop, and a water wheel.


Mary continued, "He's a man, you see, tall like you, Angel. Not a little kid. Mrs Branch thought he couldn't have gone far, but after a few more minutes when he didn't reappear she got worried."


"Did they alert the police right away?" Giles asked.


"They searched the children's museum first, asked the staff to help look, and before you knew it, everyone was involved. The rest of the tour group were rounded up and put on the bus to make the search easier. Heads were counted. After the police had interviewed the people on the bus, it was allowed to return to St Ives."


"No one saw Elliot wander off?" Angel said.


Mary glanced his way. "A few people remember him eating ice cream, but no one recalls seeing him leave the grounds."


"Mmm," Giles said. "Anything else we should know about?"


"There has been no sign of the lad, and nothing to indicate where he has been. The search will continue at dawn tomorrow. There were people out with lights looking well into the night just in case he was lying hurt somewhere. The mine has been thoroughly checked, and the cliffs and beaches have been walked. It's a mystery."


"Why did you call us, Mary?" Buffy asked. "You know something that you haven't told the police, don't you?"


Mary hesitated before saying, "As you know, we Cornish are a superstitious lot. We believe in faeries, the wee folk and the like. The miners once believed the mines were frequented by Knockers, mischievous beings who used to play pranks upon the miners underground. They had to be treated with respect, or else." She sat there looking at her guests, wondering what their reaction would be. Would they laugh at her, dismiss her concerns, or...


Giles put down his empty cup and wiped his sticky fingers on the napkin Mary had provided.


"Do you think the Knockers have had something to do with this young man? What makes you think so?"


Mary heaved a sigh of relief. She was right to call them.


"I know you will think me silly..."


"Not at all," Giles hurried to inform her. He liked this stout country woman. He was grateful that Mary Quick had acted on her intuition and called them. Angel had said that he suspected the woman had a little of the witch about her. He wished she had more. They needed more adepts now that the Coven was gone.


"There have been articles of clothing gone missing. Dogs let loose from their leashes. Plants uprooted..."


"You're not going to say vandals, are you?" Buffy asked after swallowing her last piece of scone.


"I know that it could be with all the tourists that come and go. And no one has been caught in the act, so I suppose, maybe. A person wakes up in the morning and finds something amiss in their yard. Not a few have thought of the wee folk now the mine is running tours again."


Buffy glanced over to Angel. "The mine." She looked back to their host. "This all started only after the mine began the tours?"


Mary nodded. "The guided tours are not a regular thing. When the restoration funds run low, the Historical Society runs a few tours."


"Then that is where we shall start looking."


"But the police and everyone have already..."


Buffy smiled. "Well, they don't believe in faeries, right? We have the advantage."


Mary returned her smile. "That's why I called you. I am sure the Knockers have something to do with this."


"So do we," Buffy said, getting a nod from Giles and Angel.


"Would they hurt anyone?" Giles asked, standing up.


Mary got to her feet also. "I don't think so, but...a person could be hurt unintentionally."


"Plus the fact he hasn't come home," Buffy said, hoping that the young man was okay. One never knew when demons were involved.


Scooping the cat up, Angel placed him onto his now vacant seat. He brushed at his dark trousers. He was never going to be rid of cat hair what with Zillah and Aristotle lurking about at Summerdown. Buffy rounded up the cups and plates and, ignoring Mary's protests, put them on the tray and carried them out to the kitchen.


Giles retrieved the bag he had brought in with him, rummaged around and produced three torches and a coil of rope. Angel took the rope from him, and a torch. The light wasn't for his benefit. It was to help Buffy and Giles see, and hopefully the young man when they came across him.


"Do you think you will find him?" Mary asked, hovering beside them.


"We'll do our best," said Buffy as she re-entered the room.


"One more thing, Mary," Angel said as they stood on her doorstep, "the ages of the group that toured the mine?"


Mary frowned at him. "What do you mean?"


"What would you say the average age would have been?"


Mary thought for a moment. "I don't really know. There weren't any children, I know that, and the people being interviewed by the police yesterday all appeared to be of varying ages. At least what I saw of them. Does that help?"


Angel smiled at her, his teeth white in the glow of the porch light. "I don't know yet. Thanks."


They left her standing there, a puzzled look in her eyes.





It was quiet in the eerie predawn, and Buffy could almost swear she could hear blades of grass crush beneath her feet as they marched across the fields. The sound of the sea was absent due to a light breeze blowing away from them and out to the coast. It was a surreal feeling, almost end of the world, she mused. Angel set quite a pace ahead. He made no sound as he moved, not even a thud of shoes hitting turf. Buffy knew that Angel made a conscious effort to make noise when he was around humans, it didn't come naturally. She knew that she could move just as quietly; it came with the slayer's territory. Buffy had to switch to slayer mode when she did so; otherwise she was just a normal young woman making her way. With each step Angel took, his beam of light bounced off grass and stone, and the odd shape Buffy wasn't sure of. His light was held low, allowing them safe passage across the uneven surface. Occasionally, both she and Giles speared their lights out into the night, hoping to catch a glimpse of the missing man. They suspected they wouldn't find him out in the middle of nowhere, but as Giles had said when setting out, Elliot could be heading back, returning from whatever adventure he might have been pursuing.


"These Knockers, Giles? What are we looking for, exactly?" Buffy asked, breaking the silence.


"Supposedly, they were the invention of the miners. Down in the bowels of the earth, the men imagined every sound and movement they heard was due to elves, sprites, unearthly creatures."


Buffy snorted. "If only half the things we encounter were imaginings."


Giles tried hard not to pant as they hastened along. He wouldn't be the one to hold them up. "Quite! One cannot dismiss folk lore, legends, and whisperings from the past."


"So... Knockers?"


"The few who have seen these elves, Knockers, whatever they call themselves, have all described the same features. Ugly, thin creatures with hooked noses and slit mouths. The mouths are rather large and appear to grimace quite fiercely."


"Are they big? Are they vicious? Mary didn't seem to think they meant any harm," Buffy said.


Still having to take twice as many steps as Angel, Buffy slowed her pace to match his. Angel's long legs had adopted a more sedate stride. Angel, like her, had noticed Giles' heavy breathing.


Giles breathed a little easier, and knew that his friends had noticed his distress. He refused to say anything. A man has his pride. "I believe they are about the size of a dwarf."


Buffy couldn't help laughing. "You're not about to tell me that Snow White and the Seven Dwarves are real? They were miners, the dwarves, I mean."


Giles tried to give her a stern look, and failed miserably. He doubted she could see it anyway. He sighed, loudly. "There are some who believe that Knockers precluded the closing of a mine, and live there still, waiting for it to be reopened."


Angel's soft, deep voice floated back to them; he had been listening to their chatter.


"It has been said the Knockers are souls denied entrance into heaven and hell, that the bowels of the earth are their purgatory."


Both Giles and Buffy looked at the vampire, his back to them, and then at one another.


"Do you think playing pranks is their way of passing eternity, Angel?" Giles asked him.


"Why not? What else would there be to do inside dark walls of stone and ore?"


"Why would they be souls?" Buffy asked Angel, worried that he was brooding over the events that had happened in Scotland. "Surely souls have no substance?" She hurried to say, "As in hands and feet and mouths?"


Angel did not answer. He had stopped. They were at the entrance to the mine. A narrow path - Buffy could see rails by torchlight - bordered by a hedge led the way to the opening. The entrance was barred by a steel gate.


"Why no Search and Rescue? Surely they would leave a man or two just in case?" Buffy asked, not impressed.


Angel tucked his torch into his coat pocket and, using both hands, pulled at the gate. The lock creaked when he applied his strength. The metal groaned, and it sprung open.


"The mine would have been searched thoroughly, and the men need their rest. They will resume at daybreak, I'm sure," Giles reminded her as they followed Angel into the bowels of the earth. They waited while the vampire pulled the gate closed.


Rock surrounded them, the walls and ceiling seemed to press down, and without conscious thought, Buffy lowered her voice.


"When was the last cave-in, Giles?" she whispered.


Giles shone his light at the ceiling, the walls, and down the tunnel leading them away from the surface and further into stone.


"Don't worry. See those beams?" His light hit the new struts overhead. "They look new...ish," he hesitated for the briefest of moments, "and I don't think they would take people through if the mine was unsafe."


Buffy gave Giles the look. It was wasted on him; he couldn't see it in the gloom. She decided to take the lead and, with Angel at the rear, set forth. She hadn't taken three steps when a light came on, several lights, in fact. Buffy blinked. She was sure Giles did too. The tunnel had lighting, and Angel was grinning at them. He had found the switch box.


Giles muttered, "Of course. The tours would have to be lit for safety reasons. Thank you, Angel."


Buffy looked around, and didn't know if she was happier seeing the four walls closing in or having to imagine that they did. She wasn't afraid, not really. Still, she couldn't help but shiver at the memory of six feet of earth above her and having to fight her way out of her own coffin.


"Well, at least we can see the walls tumbling down when they do," she grumbled, walking away.


Giles didn't dare chuckle, Angel either. Both men followed her, and the tracks that led deep underground. To Buffy, the tunnel looked like the inside of a throat, and she and the men behind her weren't going to be swallowed down, they were walking into the waiting stomach of the old tin mine. A rust-covered pipe ran overhead, the power cable visible alongside with the lights it provided. Small mercies, she pondered, and on that thought knew that the lights would be a welcome sight for a terrified person trapped in the dark.


Giles felt quite safe between his two extremely capable friends. He didn't look about in worry, he was thinking about the Knockers. Why would they have taken the young man? From what he knew, and what Mary had said, they weren't evil, just mischievous. Maybe their pranks could become dangerous and, if so, what could they expect? Would the Knockers let Elliot go? More importantly, was he safe and sound?


The tunnel snaked in a curve, and Giles noticed numbers on the rock walls. He wondered what their purpose was. They walked under another section of new timber beams and passed by a wooden chute that stood where the walls came together. Giles eyed the wooden seat sitting incongruously against one rock face. Had Elliot sat there? He didn't notice the vampire behind him inhaling deeply, trying to find a hint of a scent.


Stopping by the seat, Buffy asked, "I know we couldn't ask for a piece of Elliot's clothing without explaining that, no, we don't have a dog, but, yes, we do need it. Can you detect anything at all, Angel?"


"It would have helped to know the boy's scent, Buffy. I can tell that there were many people through here, and in the last few hours."


Buffy rolled her eyes. "Duh!"


Angel narrowed his eyes at her but his smile belied the glare. "A couple of them were in their senior years. One would have to be the grandmother...but I do detect the sweet smell of candy."


Buffy pounced on the possibility. "It could be Elliot was eating candy. He's more child-minded than a man."


Dampening her enthusiasm, Giles said, "A lot of adults suck on lollies, Buffy. You Americans chew gum. A filthy habit." It then registered the other thing Angel had mentioned.


"You can tell the age of a person by their smell?" Giles knew that vampires had to have that fine a sense; all watchers did, but to hear it confirmed, and from the source, was remarkable.


"Yeah." Angel paused, trying to find the right words. "Everyone has their own unique scent, you know this. Age factors into that too. Retirement homes have that old people smell. Adolescents as well, if you remember high school."


Both Buffy and Giles nodded. Both grimaced at the memory. Locker rooms and their smell, they were not likely to forget.


An old rusted rocker shovel glared balefully at the three as they walked by. A forlorn monster of the deep, discarded and no longer valued, it sat there angry and inanimate.


Angel continued, "Young women in their prime, and men too, if one has the nose for it." There was the slightest hesitation. "Babies..."


"We get it," Buffy said hurriedly for his sake. How many children had Angelus eaten? She didn't want Angel to dwell on that aspect of the hunt anymore than he had to. It was enough that he could use that particular skill to help people in distress.


"We follow the breadcrumbs, then," was all she said.


The tunnel widened. To one side a coil of pipe, an old green tank with gauge, and a muddy, red box-like wagon stood. Beside those, a solid metal ladder rose disappearing into the upper reaches of the mine shaft.


"This must be the main stope," Giles said, shining his light upwards.


"Stope?" Buffy asked.


"Stope. It's where they extracted the ore," Giles answered her.


"Stope? It looks like a step."


"Exactly, Buffy." Giles' hand wrapped about one steel rung and gave it a shake, testing it.


"Do we split up?" Buffy eyed the ladder, grateful that she wore trousers.


Giles didn't think so. "I think we should stick together. One of us could go missing and then where would we be? Besides, Angel will be the one steering us in the right direction."


Angel wasn't quite sure. There were many aromas in the tunnels. Human odour lay beneath the smell of ore and earth and something... odd. It was ancient, the oddness he detected. He couldn't quite put his finger on what, exactly. His nose continued to follow the scent of lollies, and people. In a few places the scent of candy was very strong only to fade to almost nothing before strengthening again further down the track. It was as if the candy had vanished into thin air, or rock, in this case, only to reappear magically feet away.


Angel indicated they should follow him. They left the ladder behind, and it wasn't long before they stood before the end of the path. There had been a cave-in a long time past and the rubble and old timber work stood testament to it. Angel's brow furrowed. He turned to look at Buffy and Giles behind him, and shrugged.


"Oh well, ladder it is," Buffy sighed. "Are you able to, Giles?"


Giles looked put out. "Lead on," was all he said.


Angel indicated the rope coiled about his shoulder. "Do you need...?"


Giles was indignant. Did they think him incapable? "Just get on with it, man!"


Angel led the way up the ladder. He was wondering how the two senior citizens had managed to climb to the upper level. The ladder wasn't for the faint hearted. Nor were the platforms along the way. Angel had to admire them. They managed to get to the top unscathed, Angel seeming to flow up the last few rungs, Giles careful, not graceful, and Buffy, both.


They tramped through the upper level, past the many stopes, and a ventilation shaft, shining their lights into every nook and cranny. They found no sign of the young man. Approaching the opening that led to the outside, they could see the sun's rays chasing away the shadows. Buffy sighed. Now, she hoped that they wouldn't be disturbed by the men coming back for another look.


"What happened to your fine sense of smell?" she asked Angel, not blaming him, just wondering.


He shook his head. "It's strange. There's a scent in the air that isn't quite human, and yet at intervals it disappears before my very..."


"Nose?" Buffy interjected, smirking at him.


He gave her a look, and Buffy thought he must have been practising because it was a perfect look. Then she realised, he couldn't have been. That would require a mirror.


"It's possible the scent belongs to these Knockers that Mary believes in." Giles said. "Why haven't you mentioned this before?"


"I was hoping to find a trace of a man in trouble, and start there. Fear is a very strong emotion. It can overpower everything else. It will be hard to miss. Maybe Elliot hadn't been frightened at all. I think we need to retrace our steps and examine the walls."


Giles nodded his agreement. "Buffy, have you sensed the presence of our wee friends at all?"


"I got a tingle every now and then," Buffy admitted, and mouthed, Slayer vibe, "but when I looked there wasn't anything there. No demons - sorry, Angel - no leprechauns, no Kno..."


"Don't!" Giles warned.


Buffy shut her mouth with an audible click.


Giles put his right hand on the rock wall. "Buffy, you take the left side. Let us know when you have one of those tingles, will you? Angel, you go ahead and if anything at all that seems strange, let us know."


"Yes, boss." Buffy grinned at her Watcher, and did as he suggested.


With Angel in the lead they moved back the way they had come, tapping and touching the rock walls as they went. Once or twice Buffy felt her flesh goose a little, and said so. None of them could find the source when they investigated. Angel followed the scent of candy again and was becoming convinced that it had been Elliot who carried the sweets. The only other candy-like scent smelled like cough drops. He was sure that Elliot wouldn't be sucking on those. They continued this way, their progress slow, and finally they descended the ladders to the lower level. Buffy called them one and two, it was only later did she learn that the way they had entered was Level Two, not One.


A frown on his face, Angel turned towards the end of the tunnel that petered into rubble.


"What is it?" Buffy asked.


"When I was here before...there was something not right down there, but I couldn't see what," the vampire tried to explain.


"You could have saved us a lot of trouble. It's been hours," she complained half-heartedly.


"We had to be sure," he said. She knew he was right, still...


"Let's get on, shall we?" Giles said leaning against the wall. He was exhausted. The drive down, and very little sleep did nothing for his constitution, that, and clambering about inside old deserted mines made him wish for a strong cup of tea and his bed. Knockers be damned. He was curious, to be sure, and his concern for the missing Elliot kept him going, but he was beginning to think he was getting too old for this sort of malarky.


"We can rest for a few minutes," Buffy said, noticing how weary he looked.


Angel agreed. Giles' body was under stress. He could sense it. The man was about done in.


"Not on my account you don't," Giles snapped, his voice betraying his exhaustion.


"On mine," Buffy huffed back. She looked about for a place to sit. She couldn't find one that wasn't the dirt floor, grimaced, and sat on the track. Her jeans would be ruined. Giles sighed, and slid down in a heap. Angel leaned against the wall and waited.


A few minutes later, Buffy said, "I wish we had brought a thermos, and some cookies."


Eyes closed, Giles said, "Biscuits."




Giles cracked his eyelids when the silence settled in. Buffy was there, eyes closed, head on her bent knees, and of Angel there was no sign.


"Angel?" he called softly.


Buffy lifted her head. "What?"


Giles got to his feet and brushed himself off. He held out a hand and helped Buffy get to hers.


"Angel is..." Giles startled when the vampire appeared out of the gloom behind Buffy "...back."


"I think I found something." He disappeared again.


"Elliot?" Buffy called. She and Giles hurried after him.


Angel was standing near the end of the tunnel, the cave-in a few feet beyond him.


"What is it?" Giles asked.


"Can you feel it?" Angel asked Buffy, watching her closely.


Buffy could feel something...weird. It was her turn to frown. "There's something here...I'm not quite sure..." She turned about, scrutinising the walls, floor and ceiling. Her hands went to the walls. They were solid. She could have sworn...


"Something? Is it the same feeling you get when a vampire is near?" Giles asked. He too was examining the walls. He didn't see the look that crossed her face.


"Like when Angel is near?" she teased.


Giles' eyes shot back to her face. "Buffy," he warned, glad that the tunnel wasn't that well lit to show his blush.


Angel cleared his throat, which for him was practically unheard of. He put an arm out and leaned against the wall.


"There are majicks at play here...some sort of glamour, spell, or..."


"Portal?" Buffy finished. "Yeah, it kinda feels like that."


"Like what?" Giles peered at her, his inspection of the wall forgotten for the moment.


" the hairs on my arms and neck are standing up, and my tummy doing that swirly thing."


Angel nodded. Buffy's description was a fair estimation of what he had felt, was feeling. The hairs on his body did not rise but his senses went into was instinctual. He was a creature of the supernatural and whenever he was confronted with something similar, he reacted accordingly. Buffy being a slayer had that instinct too, but she was human with supernatural abilities. It didn't always work with her, and not to the degree it worked with him.


"Do you think?" Giles started to say, when Angel's hand disappeared into the wall. The rest of his body followed as he fell through the stone.




Buffy and Giles clawed at the rock. It was solid.


"What the hell just happened?" Buffy demanded.


"I think we just found the Knockers."


"I thought we weren't going to be mentioning any names?" Buffy snapped.


She pounded on the wall to no avail. Typical! Angel goes missing, again!


She pressed her face up against the stone. "What do we do?"


Giles face lit up with a smile. An idea had occurred to him.


"We need some food," he said.


"Food?" She pulled herself away from the wall to look at him, saw his grin, and softened her voice. "How can you think about eating at a time like this?"


"For our...friends. Buffy, you stay case...well, you never know, and I'll go back down to Mary's to see what she can provide."


"Food? The Knockers want food? Is this all about food?" Buffy's cheek kissed the rock again. She sighed. Demons and their feeding habits.


Giles patted her on the shoulder. "Just don't let yourself be dragged through like Angel. Just in case..." He turned away.


"Just in case what?"


"Just in case this doesn't work. I need someone with your abilities on this side." And he was gone.


Buffy spoke to the stone. "What am I? Just chopped liver?"






For a vampire who had superb agility and an inordinate amount of grace, Angel landed inelegantly in a sprawl on the cold stone floor. He scrambled up and, looking back, had the briefest glimpse of Buffy and Giles before the wall became solid once more. Turning back he saw he was being observed. The Knockers stood by, half his size, their long noses and wide mouths grotesque versions of a human's. They were clothed in leather and wool, their garments drawing the eye to long spindly arms and legs. Two of the Knockers carried hammers almost the size and shape of a sledge hammer, another had a pick, an axe was held with both hands by another, and one, the nearest to him, had a long steel pike in his hands.


The vampire knew that he could fight his way through, he had faced worse odds, but he held up his hands in surrender.


"We just want the young man back," he said.


Long inhuman fingers pointed at him. The hand with the pike reached out and the cold, sharp metal poked at him. Scratching his cheek, the steel tip of the pike drew blood. He didn't flinch. He stood his ground. The little demons, elves, whatever, peered up at him.


They hissed at him when they saw how little he bled.




"Friend," he insisted.


"Not friend."


They chattered in a language Angel didn't know. He decided to kneel, to bring himself down to their level. They backed away a little.


"Friend," he reiterated.


"Eat people," the one with the pick said.


"No. I don't eat people. At least, not any more," he said with a heavy heart.


"You don't eat people, do you?" he asked them in return.


They shook their heads, their wide mouths turned down in distaste.


"The young man you have here..."


"Child," the demon said tapping his head.


 So they knew Elliot was child-like. "Doesn't he want to go home?"


Misshapen heads wobbled a no.


"Happy," one said.


He knew they wouldn't let him by. They didn't trust him, and he couldn't blame them. He thought they were more protective of the young man than not.


"Why did you bring me here?"


The one with the axe waggled it at him. "You wouldn't go away. Vampires not good."


"My friends out there are human, not vampires."


Heads got together and Angel heard more chatter.


"Vampires kill."


"They do. I don't. Please. The boy's grandmother is worried about him. Will you let my friend Buffy come and talk to him? I'll stay here."






Buffy was sitting once more on the floor, her back to the wall where her boyfriend had vanished, not caring about her jeans, they were washable. She cared more about what was happening to Angel, and to Elliot. She knew that Angel was more than capable of looking after himself, but what if these Knockers didn't take kindly to their interference? What if they could do away with Angel? She didn't know how to make rock disappear, how could she get to him? Would she ever see him again?


All of a sudden Buffy felt herself falling back, her support having disappeared behind her. She felt a pair of hands pulling at her jacket and she was hauled a couple of feet before she managed to throw off the hands. Scrambling to her feet, she struck a fighting stance.


Angel's deep voice said, "It's okay, Buffy, they won't hurt you."


Buffy blinked. Before her stood a row of smallish demons with large weapons and big teeth, and Angel was on his knees. He didn't look like he had been in a fight. She couldn't see any cuts or bruises.


"You think?" she said, a stake in one fist. "What's with the weaponry then?"


"They don't like vampires."


She eyed the demons. "Huh! Well I don't like them. They kidnap defenceless people. I want to know what for."


A demon with an axe stepped forward and sniffed at her.


"Hey!" she said, offended.


"They are just making sure that you aren't a human slave."


Buffy's eyebrows went up. "Huh?"


"That you are human and of your own mind."


Buffy stared at Angel. "What, does he think I am under your thrall, or something?"


Angel's eyes were black in the light. He stared back at her.


Her eyes went to the crowd of demons. "I'm nobody's slave. I'm the Slayer."


The demons all started to chatter at once. Several times she was pointed to and peered at.


"Maybe I shouldn't have said that," she told Angel. "They are demons after all."


A demon with a pike stepped forward and raised it to her cheek. She started to lift her hand in defence, when Angel said, "They want to test your blood. It's okay."


Buffy put her hand down, and stared at the pike as it came towards her cheek. She ignored the sting of the scratch, and the large sniff the creature made. She glanced over to Angel. She couldn't see a matching wound on his cheek.


As if reading her mind, he said, "It's healed."


"Are they going to let Elliot go?"


He shrugged. "They say he is happy."


She snorted. "Happy? In this dump?" Buffy looked about. They were in another tunnel, which was bathed with an almost luminescent low light. She wondered where the light was coming from. She couldn't see any sign of candles or old-fashioned fire brands. Buffy realised they were watching her. Maybe she had offended them. "Sorry."


"Would you take Buffy to see Elliot?" Angel asked the cave-dwelling demons. "Can she see for herself that he is okay?"


"Why not you?" Buffy asked him.


"Vampire, remember? They don't want me anywhere near him, or their camp."


The Knockers decided on a course of action, and told Buffy to follow them. A few would stay behind to watch Angel.


As she brushed by him, Buffy said, "Is it time to sing, Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! It's Home from Work We Go? I feel like I'm in a Disney movie," she said, and then she was gone.


The tunnel meandered away, the strange light emanating from the rock face itself. Buffy wondered how the rock did that, and why did the Knockers need light at all. Surely being underground creatures they must be adapted to the darkness of the mine. She wished that Giles was with her, he might have been able to answer her questions. The tunnel branched off into two, and she was led down a path that ended in steps. The demons moved silently, their bare feet hard and leathery and well suited to their way of life. Eventually the steps spilled into a wide low cavern, and the first thing she noticed was the number of demons. There were dozens. Dark openings in the rock walls caught her eye. Caves within a cave, she thought. A flurry of movement caught her eye. There were several demons, smaller than her guards, racing about with one large...human, she realised. They were chasing a ball.





Giles hurried as best he could. As he approached the village he could see the flurry of people hurrying to and fro. Obviously the search teams out once more. After letting him in, and Giles explaining the situation, Mary led Giles into her kitchen, asking him to help her with the food. She rescued a picnic basket from a cupboard and had Giles wrapping biscuits, cheeses, warm pasties - she had a batch just out of the oven - cakes, and scones. A bag of nuts, and a jar of assorted lollies, "I have a sweet tooth," she told him, and when Giles had buttered a loaf of bread, Mary filled it with ham and pickles.


"Do you think this will work?" she asked him on the doorstep as he was leaving.


"If what you say is true, Mary, then yes, I hope so."


Giles left her standing there, and on his way back to the mine, met a man and woman on the way. They scrutinised him as he approached.


"Good day to you," he said, prepared to hurry past.


"Good day. Going on a picnic?" the man asked. He was young, about thirty, Giles guessed, as was the woman with him.


"Yes I am." He kept on walking.


"That's a lot of food for one man," the woman commented, suspicious.


Giles stopped, and turned. Dammit! He was probably now suspect. A man his age, on his own, wandering about with a basket of food, and a person who was incapable of defending himself, missing, of course the couple would be suspicious.


"Friends of mine are waiting up at the cottages. It's a lovely day for it, isn't it?" He put on his best smile.


The man wasn't finished with him. "You haven't seen a young man about have you? Tall, dark-haired, a little child-like?"


"The lad that has disappeared? No, I haven't. It was the talk down at the village. I expect he'll turn up soon, unharmed, none the worse for wear."


Eyebrows drawn together in a frown, the woman said, "How can you say that? You don't know."


"No, I don't, but it's the best we can wish for. Good day to you," and he turned and walked on. Giles hoped that the young couple weren't going to go straight to the police.






Buffy called out, "Elliot?"


The ball rolled away from Elliot's fingers. He looked up at her. He looked like he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Buffy waved at him. Buffy couldn't help but wonder how alike Elliot and Angel were. The shoulders were wide, Elliot's hair as dark as Angel's, and he had the vampire's height. Elliot walked through the circle of his new playmates to meet her. The young demons were the image of their elders, only smaller in stature. When he arrived before her, Buffy saw that the man had blue eyes, and that his face was chubbier than her boyfriend's.


"I'm Buffy Summers. A lot of people are looking for you. I have a friend waiting for us up there," she pointed to the ceiling, "and I think it's time we got you home."


"I like it here," Elliot proclaimed as if that made it alright.


Buffy looked around. Her guards were not too far away. "I know you do, but your grandmother is worried about you."


Elliot toed the floor. In a small, sad voice, he said, "I didn't mean for her to worry. Can't I stay just a little bit longer?"


"Elliot," Buffy looked up into his face. She felt sorry for the man. "Your grandmother needs to know you're safe."


"Can't you tell her I'll be home later?" he asked hopefully.


Oh boy! Buffy thought hard. "What about food? Aren't you hungry?"


"I had some lollies," he said, "but we ate them all."




Elliot flung his arms out to encompass the crowd of demons that had begun to gather. "My friends."


"You know you can't live on lollies, although," she smiled at him, "I have been known to have a sweet tooth."


He looked at Buffy. "They said they would get me something to eat. I hope it's not rocks, because I saw them eating some of that, and it didn't look very tasty."


"Did you come here on you own, Elliot? They didn't make you, did they?"


"No..." Elliot looked at his shoes. The trainers were smudged with dust and dirt. "They said they smelled the lollies I had with me when we went into the mine. I must have dropped a couple. They came right out of the wall and asked me to go with them. I couldn't, Nan was there, and I had to be sure she didn't fall, or twist her ankle or something. The elves went away."


"Elves?" Buffy resisted the urge to laugh. Elliot was a little ‘slow' but he had his grandmother's safety in mind, and he seemed to care a lot about her.


"They could be elves, don't you think?" He changed tack suddenly. "I bought more lollies at the museum, and I wanted to come back here to see where they lived. No one was looking," he said, "and I didn't intend to be gone long."


"But you were, and you have to come home now. You can't stay here."


"It was an adventure, you know? Sort of like Harry Potter."


Buffy was puzzled. "Harry Potter?"


"He does magic and fights evil things and sometimes goes underground in his quest to save his friends."


Buffy glanced about at the audience they now had. The Knockers were very quiet, listening to everything they said. "Evil things?"


"No, they're not evil, but they live underground and they do magic. And they're my friends." Elliot folded his arms across his wide chest.


"I think you should tell your friends that you want to come with me."


"Can I say goodbye first?" he asked, looking like he was ready to cry.


Buffy backed away from the crowd that had gathered. "Okay. I'll wait for you by the stairs."


Buffy's guards accompanied her. She was relieved when she noticed they carried their weapons in a more relaxed manner. She and Angel wouldn't need to use force to rescue Elliot. And it appeared as if he was here of his own free will.


"You are going to let him go," she said to her guards.


"We cannot keep him here forever." The grin that split the odd face widened. Buffy thought it was impossible for the mouth to do so but it did. "It got the humans in a dither though."


Buffy tried to keep her face from showing her displeasure, and she knew she had failed when the guards sniggered. She turned her eyes to Elliot, saw that they were shaking hands, and noticed that not a few hugs were exchanged. Buffy wished the world could learn to live side by side with one another. Make friends with their neighbours regardless of differences. Just like the young man before her and his new demon friends.




Angel was where she had left him only he was upright and leaning against a wall. His arms were folded across his chest, and there was a hint of a smile on his face. His guards were playing a game that included a round smooth rock and their weapons.


"What are they doing?" Buffy asked as she and her entourage approached. One of the demons was using his hammer as a stick, a very heavy stick. The Knockers with her began to chatter away in their own language, Angel's guard answering back, before hitting the ball. The other two tried to defend against the rock using an axe and a pick. The ball got through, much to the delight of the hitter, and the dismay of the defenders.


"Hockey," Angel said.


"You taught them hockey? That's cool," Elliot said from beside Buffy.


Buffy couldn't say anything. She was gobsmacked. She stared at her boyfriend.


Angel shrugged his shoulders. "It's not ice hockey, and the space is a bit small, but..."


Elliot said, "I showed them how to play marbles. I had them in my pocket," he explained. "I gave them my marbles." He shrugged. "I have more at home."


Buffy stirred herself. "Elliot, this is my friend Angel." She smirked at her vampire. "I think he's about your age." They certainly looked alike. They could be brothers, she thought.


He ignored her jibe and smiled at the boy with what he hoped was a friendly grin.


The boy held out his hand. "Mr Angel," he said, suddenly sounding his age.


Angel's hand clasped the boy's. "Elliot. Are you ready to go?"


Buffy turned to the gathered demons. "Can we go now?"


"Wait," said the demon with the pike. He appeared to be the leader of the group. "Another waits beyond the wall."


"Who?" Buffy asked. "Is it Giles?"


Pike demon muttered something unintelligible, and waved his hand. The stone before them disappeared. It was Giles, standing on the other side with a large basket of food. He was talking to himself, and touching the wall. It was like watching a mime with his hand up against a wall of thin air.


"He can't see us."


"No," Angel said, "and he isn't happy about it." He was reading Giles' lips and he wasn't going to repeat to Buffy what the Englishman was saying.


"Open the way, please," Buffy asked the demons. "Giles has brought you a present. There's food in the basket."


Angel could see the Knockers' noses twitching. It was obvious to him that they could smell the food even though stone stood between them and it. It was apparent that they could sense a person whenever they stepped into the mine. The demons had to have exceptional senses. The head man muttered again, and the invisible barrier vanished. Giles stumbled a little, his eyes wide with surprise. He recovered well.


"Ahh...there you are." He took in the demons, Elliot Branch, his friends, and held up the basket before placing it on the ground at his feet. "I come bearing gifts."


Giles didn't move back when the demons crowded round the basket. He gestured to Buffy to bring the young man over. They sidled past the demons that were intent on pulling the basket apart. He stepped back into Rosevale's tunnel, Buffy and Elliot following.


"Bye," Elliot said, his sad little wave odd from such a big man.


Buffy turned to find Angel still inside with the demons.


"Aren't you coming?"


"It's afternoon. Go, I'll see you later."


Buffy didn't know how she felt about Angel staying behind. The demons didn't like vampires, and wasn't that the thing? He would be safe enough from the sun on their side of the wall; he didn't have to be behind it.


Giles gently touched her elbow. "People may come up here after we bring Elliot back. Angel could hide, sure, but he will be more comfortable where he is."


With a smile to Angel, he said, "Anything to get out of having to explain where he has been all these hours."


Angel smirked. "Good luck on that."


Buffy stood for a moment more staring at Angel. A tall dark figure amongst the smaller nightmarish ones around his legs. He stared back, his eyes unreadable in the low light. Finally, she blew him a kiss and, turning away with Elliot in tow, introduced him to Giles.


The last thing Angel heard before the wall rematerialised was Elliot answering Buffy's question on whether the Knockers did go into Zennor to play pranks.


"They don't call themselves that."


The End.





Thanks to a comment from Deb, and then Jo, Harry Potter got a mention.


A big thank you, as always, to Jo for her excellent beta work.


Wayside Folk Museum at Zennor


The Rosevale Mine. I presume there is lighting; the photos seemed to indicate there is. If I got any of the facts wrong about Rosevale I apologise.


For those that want to know what a rocker shovel is - go here


 For more information about the folk lore of Knockers, or Knackers as they were sometimes called, go here.


The original Snow White was written by the Brothers Grimm.


Disney's Snow White


:: E-mail the author of this story
:: Feedback at the Project LiveJournal site

BtVS and Angel are the property of Joss Whedon and Fox/ME/WB. This website is unofficial, non-profit, and not affiliated with them in any way. All stories carry an age rating of 15, and are original works created for this site. Counter by Grateful thanks to our writers for producing these stories, and to Mike, because without his graphics and php codes, Project Paranormal just wouldn't exist.
~ Dark Star.