The Seven Dwarfs
Summary: Buffy isn’t Snow White, but she meets the
Seven Dwarfs anyway.
“What do you think?” Buffy asked the woman in front of
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
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
“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.
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.
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.
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
“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
“I guess I could do with a cup of tea. No biscuits
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’
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
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
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,
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“We’ll do our best,” said Buffy as she re-entered the
“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
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
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.”
“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
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
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
“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
“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
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
“Stope?” Buffy asked.
“Stope. It’s where they extracted the ore,” Giles
“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
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
“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
“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
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,
“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
“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
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
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,
“Portal?” Buffy finished. “Yeah, it kinda feels like
“Like what?” Giles peered at her, his inspection of
the wall forgotten for the moment.
“Um…like 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 overdrive…it 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
Giles face lit up with a smile. An idea had occurred
“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 here…in 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
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
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.
They chattered in a language Angel didn’t know. He
decided to kneel, to bring himself down to their level. They backed away a
“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
They shook their heads, their wide mouths turned down
“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.
“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
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
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
“Hey!” she said, offended.
“They are just making sure that you aren’t a human
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
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
“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
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
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
Oh boy! Buffy thought hard. “What about food? Aren’t
“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
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
“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
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
“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
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.”
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
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
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
Disney’s Snow White