Did Giles just say 'Dear Lord!'? I really hope not, that's never a good thing when we are researching but I'm pretty sure that's what he said. I look around and I'm relieved to see I'm not the only one who seems to be more than a little worried about it. We haven't really had a 'dear lord' worthy demon since we defeated the First.
"I suspect we may be dealing with a Ylnevaeh demon here. A member of the group usually referred to as the 'Phoenix demons'. They are ancient and very dangerous." Giles says as if that were an explanation.
"So, how do we kill it?" I ask, I really just want to get this over with... and if at all possible I'd rather keep Giles from going into full lecture mode.
"Well, that's the problem, you see Phoenix demons as a rule don't reproduce by traditional means."
"That's good to know but I want to kill it, Giles, not date it," I remind him.
"Yes, Buffy, I'm getting to that. As I was saying Phoenix demons are asexual and unable to reproduce by traditional means, they are known as Phoenix demons because they are reborn from their remains... no matter how badly mutilated those remains are. Do you remember the Judge?"
"Kind of hard to forget."
"Well, as you may recall it could not be killed."
"And yet we managed to blow him to itty bitty pieces."
"And even then those pieces were trying to reassemble themselves. The thing is that the Judge shared some common traits in that regard with Phoenix demons, unfortunately there's one big difference: with the Judge the parts had the ability to reassemble themselves back into the original demon, with Phoenix demons each part, no matter how small has the ability to grow into a fully developed demon."
"Let me get this straight: you are saying that it can't be killed and if we blow it to pieces each part will become one more demon? That by fighting it we could end up creating a whole army of these whatever you call it demons?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying. It can't reproduce but in fighting it you could easily trigger an infestation that could bring an end to mankind. A single drop of demon blood shed is all it would take for a new demon to be born."
"Okay, so that probably wouldn't be of the good. So if we can't kill it and we can't blow it up what are we supposed to do with it? 'Cause somehow I don't think it would make for a very nice pet, so I figure keeping it around isn't really an option either."
"We are going to have to do some more research. Unfortunately there are still so many books that are missing that I'm not sure just how useful that research will be. We have some information on Phoenix demons as a group but we have almost nothing on Ylnevaeh demons per se... other than the fact that going by their name chances are they are one of the nastiest members of the Phoenix family."
"How so?" I ask, not quite following Giles's logic on that one.
"Well, while demon names usually have obscure origins that are all but impossible to understand, those few instances in which the names have a clearly discernible meaning tend to refer to extremely deadly demons... and with a name as obvious as Ylnevaeh that is a bad sign."
"Of course, that's such an everyday word, how could I not see that!" I say.
"Write it down, Buffy. Y-L-N-E-V-A-E-H, you've got that."
"I got it, still doesn't make sense but I've got it." I growl.
"Okay, now read it backwards... use a mirror if you have to. Now tell me what the name of this demon is."
"Heavenly. Okay, I'm going to take a wild guess and say that's really not good."
"The little I've been able to figure out is that it feeds on the fear and life force of the young. That's why it's victims were between ten and twelve, old enough to know to be afraid, young enough that they are still considered pure."
"Kind of like the Kindertot on steroids?" I ask, not really looking forward to having to fight anything that even remotely resembles that one. It may have been easily defeated but I can't forget my first encounter with its handiwork... the one I never knew I had.
"Well, I wouldn't put it quite like that but, yes, that may be a good analogy to describe this demon, only it doesn't hide under the cover of disease, it is not invisible and the results of its actions are quite apparent in the corpses it leaves behind."
"But if the children were afraid why didn't they fight?" I hear Blair ask.
"Because, if I remember correctly, Ylnevaeh demons have a thrall much stronger than that of a master vampire. I suspect they may use that power to paralyze their victims and play with their fear before killing them."
"Man, I hate it when that happens! Didn't their mothers ever tell demons not to play with their food?" Says Xander trying to lighten the mood a little, I don't blame him but I don't think Giles is going to be too happy about that one.
"Xander, this is serious! What we have here doesn't fit the usual pattern for this particular demon, that's why it took me so long to identify it even though it kills its victims in a very distinctive fashion."
"What do you mean that the pattern doesn't fit?" asks Blair.
"Usually Ylnevaeh demons keep a low profile. They strike isolated locations and vanish. You can say that they are known for their surgical strikes..."
"And going by what we know of how it kills by sucking its victims' brains out, I'd say that 'surgical' is a particularly ironic definition," mutters Xander.
"Yes, well, what I mean is that they may kill all the children in one family, more rarely they may strike in small villages where they wreck havoc, but as a rule they don't attack major population centers."
"So why Cascade?" asks Jim who's obviously still not happy that this is happening in his city.
"That's what's troubling. These demons usually keep to themselves but with the forces of darkness in total disarray since the Hellmouth was closed it would not be unthinkable for one of them to make a strategic move to position itself as a major player."
"What are you implying here?" asks Blair.
"I'm saying those five killings may have been the demon's calling card... and Cascade may be about to become a focus of supernatural activity. Not exactly a Hellmouth since it's not located on a convergence of mystical forces, but a demon magnet nonetheless."
"I so did not need to hear that." I say with a sinking feeling. I can't keep myself from thinking that here we go again.