"Whoa, hold on... could you run that one by me again?" Asked Blair.
"The Shadowmen were shamans." Said Buffy.
"And they 'created' the Slayer?"
"And going by your reaction I'm guessing there's a dark side to that story."
"Were you trying for the 'understatement of the year' award here? 'Cause you are close to getting it."
"Care to elaborate?"
"Well, let's see... as far as I can tell a few thousand years ago a group of your fellow shamans decided that they wanted a mystical warrior to confront the demons they were too weak to fight themselves so they took a girl, chained her to the earth and somehow transferred a demon's energy --its vital force-- into her. She was the First Slayer and when she died the demon's essence simply found a new host in another girl and then another one and another one until finally that essence got to me... or at least that's the PG-13 version of the story, you really don't want me to go into all the details."
"How did you find out about that? Somehow I don't think the Council would have wanted slayers to be aware of that."
"No. While the Shadowmen were in a sense the first watchers that part of the story was lost long before the written word came into the scene. As far as we knew the Slayer had existed since the dawn of time." Said Giles.
"Then what happened?"
"While we were looking for a way to defeat the First we had a nice shadow puppet show and I got sent to a different dimension, time, whatever." Explained Buffy. "The thing is that while I was there I got an up close and personal look at exactly what they did... actually they tried to do it again but I... I couldn't go through with it. To them the girls were nothing and the power was everything. I managed to fight that thing off somehow but they... they said the First Slayer begged them to stop too but they wouldn't listen to her either. Why did they do it?"
"I understand your anger, Buffy --and I know it must have been scary for you to be there-- I'm not trying to minimize the horror of what happened but I suspect you may be looking at the whole thing from too much of a contemporary perspective." Said Blair, knowing that he was going to have no choice but to be the rational one.
"Well, duh, how else am I supposed to look at it?"
"If you wish to understand then you must try to get a clearer picture of the world in which those events took place."
"What? A world in which a sort of mystical rape was acceptable? Sorry, not my kind of world, thanks for playing."
"No, but maybe a world in which sacrifices --human sacrifices-- were a fact of life. A world in which the sacrifice of a young girl in exchange for a warrior capable of defeating a demon was well worth it."
"It wasn't just one girl though, was it? Thousands of slayers have died through the millennia because of what they did."
"I know, and I'm not defending what was done to those girls, or what they tried to do to you for that matter. All I'm saying is that the Shadowmen are unlikely to have considered things from a modern perspective. It was a brutal world they lived in and going by the guidelines that ruled their lives the trade-off --even if they had thought about all the girls that would be sacrificed to their cause in a distant future, which they probably didn't-- was a no-brainer as far as they were concerned."
"Yes, of course, because girls were disposable." Growled Buffy.
"No, because girls were precious."
"Okay, I'm so not following you."
"The whole point of making a sacrifice is to give up something you value, Buffy. If you sacrifice something that is worthless to you then it has no meaning."
"But why girls then? Why not boys?"
"Would it have been less awful if slayers had been boys? Would that have made the sacrifice more acceptable?"
"Of course not, but you've got to admit that it would have made a lot more sense."
"Not really. I suspect part of the problem has to do with the fact that we live in a male dominated society --one we are finally starting to move away from-- and that has tainted your perception. You are convinced that the Shadowmen sacrificed a girl because they believed her to be worth less than a boy, but that perception is more a reflection of our own world than of theirs."
"Then why? A boy would probably have been seen as stronger, at least to begin with."
"I believe the choice of a girl had more to do with the symbolic role of the Slayer than with the gender of its vessel. Back then a man would have been seen as a warrior --a bringer of death in a sense-- a woman would have been seen as a giver of life."
"So, if demons and vampires personify death, who would have been seen as more apt to defeat them --to be perceived as the killer of death if you will-- the bringer of death or the giver of life?"
"The giver of life, I guess. Are you speaking as a shaman or as an anthropologist here?"
"I don't know, not really... I guess they merged somewhere along the way."
"Okay, so you are telling me that the Shadowmen were not totally evil, just mostly evil?"
"I'm saying that they were human, nothing more and nothing less than that. That doesn't mean that they did no harm but they and the world in which they lived have been gone for thousands of years, don't turn them into the boogeyman that keeps you up at night."
"I won't, but just thinking about it pisses me off."
"Yes, well, all rationalizations aside, you are most definitely not alone there. It's just that you can't change the past. No matter how vivid it may seem sometimes, it's still the past."
"I know. So I guess you just got recruited into the new Council, uh?"
"Nah, actually I suspect I was recruited a couple of years ago as part of a two for one special featuring a matched set of Sentinel and Guide... we just never got the memo until tonight."
"You may have a point there, after all, being a watcher is sort of a family tradition for you."
"I cannot out run my tragic fate!" Said Blair jokingly.
"Very funny you two. Could we get this thing back on track? I knew this was bound to be a long night but I'd like us to be done before dawn." Said Giles.
"Too late, I'm already here."
"That's not what I meant."
"Well, it's not like we have a vamp to worry about, so what's with the hurry?" Said Xander.
"I think maybe we should consider wrapping things up for tonight, it's not like we have that much left to discuss. We pretty much covered every conceivable aspect of the Council's history, now we just have to put that in perspective and that will probably be easier once we've had some rest. Right now it looks like the troops are starting to get restless after the onslaught of facts you've managed to send their way." Added Methos.
"I may have gotten a little carried away." Admitted Giles.
"Jeez... ya think?" Said Buffy.
"And I wasn't the only one, besides these were all things that had to be brought up."
"Well, it was kind of interesting, but I'm not sure how much help all this is going to be. We may have a couple of ideas as to what not to do, but as far as what kind of form the Council should take I'm pretty much drawing a blank here."
"I don't know what form the new Council will take either, but I have the feeling that we are at least on the right track. I don't think that the fact that we are all here is a coincidence. Look around, what do you see?"
"A bunch of lunatics with more imagination than common sense?" Asked Joe.
"Well, maybe that too, but think about it. We have a shaman and a tribal guardian, the watcher to the most recent Champion and the world's oldest Immortal, a Slayer's watcher and the most successful Slayer in recorded history, two of the world's most powerful witches, a mystical Key and two humans --both of whom have fought the forces of darkness in spite of the fact that they have no special powers-- who can't help but remind us of why we fight. This is the seed of the Council... we are all here."
Author's note: This was meant to be the last story in this universe --at least for the time being-- however a rather stubborn plot bunny did not agree, so this series will continue.