This Little Demon
As soon as my father says that the five corpses we found yesterday could be merely the demon's calling card I feel the mood shift. Everyone goes into high alert mode and I have the feeling that this will be our introduction to a true Big Bad. What I've heard so far is not exactly reassuring... how do you defeat a demon that cannot be fought? That's the first question that comes to my mind but it's not the only one. I need to know if this demon is working alone or if it has help... human help. I am still considering this when the questions begin. The first one to recover is Willow.
"Giles, is this Ylnevaeh demon vulnerable to magic? I mean, if we can't take it down in hand to hand combat that could be an option, right?"
"Not really, it has some barriers that cut most of our magical options as well, unfortunately."
"What do you mean?"
"It can't be destroyed by magic and it is bound to this dimension, so a magical portal wouldn't really help us either," explains my father.
"But it's not totally immune to magic?" Willow insists.
"No, not completely, but the most you can realistically expect to do is move it... and unfortunately even that would have to be confined to a place that is within your field of vision and I can't really see how moving it a handful of miles is going to help us."
"Great, so what are we supposed to do with it?" asks Buffy who is not looking happy.
"I don't know, really, no Ylnevaeh demon has ever been truly defeated," explains Giles, "they are rare enough and when it comes to Phoenix demons I have to admit that the Council's philosophy used to be to look the other way. The belief was that they didn't really kill enough people to warrant attempting to fight them... that was deemed to be just too dangerous."
"Except now it's moved into the city and that's no longer a viable option," I say, finding my voice again... I don't like what I've heard so far.
"Well, I have a different question: is it likely to be working alone or could there be some sort of cult that is providing it with victims?"
"I think it probably operates alone but I can't be certain. It would be abnormal for it to be associated with humans but then again an open attack in a major city is an abnormal behavior in itself... and I suspect we may have something to do with that."
"Why else would it choose Cascade? It's too much of a coincidence... I think it is challenging us. What better way to make a statement than to take us out? I'm not particularly familiar with the demon community but I think it's safe to assume that they know we are here," says Methos and I see my father nodding at his explanation. I turn around and I can see that Jim is not happy about that one.
"So?" asks Buffy
"So what better way to make a statement than to take out the ones demons fear the most?" Methos clarifies.
"And that would be us... I guess it kind of makes sense," she admits.
"What led you to suspect human involvement in the first place?" asks my father bringing the conversation back to my previous question.
"No bruises," I explain, "it's unnatural for five children that age to be completely bruise free. I thought that could indicate some sort of ritual... or at least that they had been kept alive for a couple of weeks after they were captured and it just didn't strike me as something a demon would do. I mean if the demon snatched them itself, why wait?"
"I'm afraid there may be a different explanation for that, one you probably won't like. As I said this demon feeds on its victims' fear and life force, and it also possesses a very powerful thrall. The children could easily have been paralyzed while the demon terrified them and that could have gone on for weeks. Only when it got tired of playing did it feed off their life force and killed them."
"Okay, so what do we have so far?" asks Buffy
"A powerful demon, probably acting alone, probably challenging us directly. It can't be fought by traditional means and chances are magic won't be much help either," surmises Methos.
"In other words an impressive list of maybes topped by a couple of really yummy 'nothing useful'," says Xander.
"So what would work?" asks Tara.
"I'm not sure. We can't risk an infestation though, that much is clear," says my father.
"Could I move it anywhere within my field of vision?" asks Willow, seemingly out of nowhere.
"Anywhere anywhere or are there some additional parameters?"
"Anywhere as long as it is somewhere you can see and it is in this dimension."
"No fine print as to how clearly I can see it?"
"No, what are you thinking?"
"I'm still not sure just yet, it's really vague right now and I'll have to think about it but I think I may have an idea. It's not much but so far is the only thing we have. Can the demon itself use magic against us?"
"Can it teleport back to a previous location?"
"Fortunately no, but since you are limited in how far you can send it that doesn't really help much."
"So it would have to be able to basically walk back to where it was?"
"Well, at least that's something."
"Even then we would have to be able to track it down," Jim points out.
"What does it look like?" I ask, seeing that he has a point. In order to get rid of this thing we have to find it first.
"Its true form is unknown," explains Giles, "its thrall results in a glamour that makes it look human... it may show on Buffy's radar if it's close enough and you may be able to see through that glamour but that's about all I can tell you. Its human facade probably looks average and non-threatening but that's just a guess and I can't be any more specific than that. I can't even tell you whether its form will be male or female."
"Why would I be able to see it?"
"Remember your first meeting with Buffy?"
"Not likely to forget it any time soon," I say grinning at Buffy who looks offended.
"How many times do I have to apologize for that?" she growls.
"It's not about holding grudges, Buffy, all I'm saying is that he could see through the illusion of the Key so maybe he can see through that of the demon."
"Will a locator spell work?" asks Willow.
"I don't know... as I said the Council's approach to these demons was to leave them alone. I don't know if a specific locator spell would work and I'm not even sure it would show on a general locator spell."
"Maybe a general spell and then we could narrow it down?" suggests Tara.
"What do you mean?"
"I think maybe we could do a spell to locate all the demons in Cascade, then we can eliminate demons by variety, like make it not recognize vampires, polgaras and so on until only demons of unknown varieties remains... or maybe just make it so that lone species representatives show."
"Lone species representatives?"
"Yes, if as we believe this demon is acting alone a spell that would highlight only those varieties of demons of which there's a single representative could save us some time."
"That's a good idea but I think we need some sort of plan before we try it. Once we find it we have to be able to take it down because somehow I don't see us getting a second chance here," Methos points out.