Title: Bringer of Death
Rating: PG-13 (violence, implied rape not graphic in description)
Summary: Demon entry to the Watchers Diaries. The contents of an old journal give pause for reflection to one old scholar.
Disclaimer: I derive no profit from this story. The rights to several details within belong to Joss Whedon, ME, WB, UPN, Fox et all and I make no claim on them. The original plot is mine.
Chapter 1 – Within These Hallowed Walls
The harried young apprentice made his way with all due haste. The courier had emphasized that the package was one the powerful head of the Watchers Council had been greatly anticipating. ‘Feels like another dusty old book,’ the lad thought impudently. ‘Just what we need here, more of the same.’
After signing for the bundle, the clerk-apprentice immediately headed for the door to the inner sanctum of Sir John Feathersham, current guiding hand of the ancient, powerful organization. He paused just outside the oaken doorway, hesitant to further disturb his master and idol.
Sir John had been in quite a taking since the arrival some four days prior of a telegram that had greatly disturbed the normally stoic gentleman. As was often the case in this time of war, the telegram was a terse announcement of the death of one of Sir John’s oldest and dearest friends. The inquiry that followed had only served to further upset that good man. Perhaps the package that had been sent to the Council by the deceased would contain a better explanation for the tragedy.
"Thank you, that will be all," Sir John said quietly as he accepted the bundle.
Against his better judgment and training, the clerk paused again, waiting to see what would unfold. A brief yet meaningful look from Sir John reminded him that his presence was no longer desired and he slid silently from the hallowed sanctum.
Sir John Feathersham waited for certain privacy before he began to untie the twine that held the package closed. "Perhaps a small bit of liquid courage first, what say you, Jules?" Feathersham certainly didn’t expect his friend to speak in response. His only hope was that the contents of the package might make some sort of sense of the loss.
Julian Sater-Dewfield had been a stellar student. He would have made a superb Watcher had his interest not fallen more to scholarly pursuits. Still, he had been an asset to the Council for nearly forty years. The man had been as stable as they come, too. The realization that such a man had been the one to put a bullet through his own head rocked Sir John and all those who had personal knowledge of the scholar.
Julian had no next of kin. His entire world had been the Council and its work. He was the sort of man that would have volunteered for the Crusades in an earlier era; a knight of Arthur himself, had that been his time. The man was dedicated to the defense of the defenseless, the vanquishing of evil and protection of the masses of humanity that blithely went about, unaware of the danger that surrounded them all.
What had led such a man to such a dark place in his soul that he would take his own life? There were those in the Council who felt the news coming from the Continent might have led to his despair, but Sir John knew that it would take more than the atrocities of Adolph Hitler to bring such a man to this point. No, it must have involved the project Julian had been working on so long with such diligence, the same project now resting on Sir John’s desk.
One quick shot of Scotland’s finest and Sir John tore open the package, steeling himself for whatever horror had led to his dear friend’s untimely death.
There was short, handwritten note atop the neatly stacked papers, all typed in single-spaced perfection. The original document was also enclosed, its leather binding making a determination of age easy even if the unknown language proved difficult. Indeed, Julian had been engaged in the translation for the past ten years.
Sater-Dewfield had found his Rosetta stone in an old Abbey in western Wales near Carmarthen. The old book had been found near there and the handful of words that were understandable were in Welsh. Julian had leapt at the opportunity to attempt a translation.
According to Julian’s assistant, he had completed the translation the very night he took his own life. The assistant was not clear on much, having no real expertise other than being able to fetch and carry. The lad had no clue about the translation save that Julian had become increasingly upset the more he worked on the project. There had been troubled sleep and far more alcohol consumed than Sir John had ever known Julian to indulge in. Clearly something within had deeply troubled Julian and now it fell to his friend to uncover the whys and wherefores of the loss.
Sir John opened the single folded missive and began to read his friend’s last message to the world.
"My Dear Friend,
I am sending this private correspondence directly to you via my assistant, Harold. Please see that the boy has the chance to continue his education as he has proven himself a willing helper, even if untrained in any specific discipline. The boy can be trusted implicitly. You should feel free to use my estate in paying the lad’s tuition.
Within are all my notes, along with the final translation of the journal discovered in the bookstalls of Gwynedd. Said journal is also included and should be preserved.
I trust your discretion and wisdom regarding the disposition of the translation and my notes. I need not explain the possible implications of this work were it to become common knowledge. Indeed, the Council itself could well be shaken to its foundations with this information that runs so counter to all of our known body of truth.
A close study of my notes will support my end translation and owing to the information contained within, I can but pray that the Council will do all in its power to take appropriate action. There are also notes containing names of individuals with sufficient oral history to embellish the narrative of the journal.
I submit that if what is revealed in this document is proven true, it is but the tip of the iceberg and a re-evaluation of certain policies, practices and training will be necessary in the interest of our mandate to be in service to the Powers for Good.
As for my own culpability in any events our current policies have wrought, I fully accept responsibility and throw myself upon the merciful God I have endeavored to serve.
May that God guide and comfort you, John. Please forgive a weak man who can no longer look in a mirror or sleep at night for the weight of guilt.
Yours in Service,
Julian Sater-Dewfield, Esq.
Chapter 2 -- A Past Revealed
Sir John scanned the notes before him and saw that Julian had verified the date of the journal to be between the fifth and sixth century of the Christian calendar. An intact document from that era was rare in any part of the world. This one was also written in a previously unknown language, making it even more a rarity.
The notes included references to Arthurian legends and suppositions. It appeared that Julian had determined the journal’s writers were familiar with the main protagonists of that ancient mythic story.
The writer seemed to be of the belief that Arthur, or Paw^ryw’r as referenced in the text, lived and ruled in the first century. This ran contrary to the currently held belief that if such a ruler were a real person, then he was a Romano-British leader who lived sometime in the late fifth to early sixth century and fought against the invading Saxons.
The notes went on to quote local legends of the times of the Demetae, the local Celtic tribes of that area. Julian made notations that there were archeological finds supporting many of these old legends in the areas surrounding Carmarthen. In particular, he gave weight to the artifacts found nearby on Bryn Myrddin--Merlin’s Hill.
The local people also pointed to the story of the tree called Merlin’s Oak, purported to be an omen of the town’s destruction. When the tree died, it was dug up and stored in a museum to prevent the prophecy from coming true.
"Good Lord," whispered Sir John. "Julian must have spent at least two years of his research time on this detail alone!"
Whatever real truth lay buried in dark history, Julian accepted the dating of the kingdom from the perspective and beliefs of the writer of the journal. Surely if Arthur were ruling in the late fifth or early sixth century, it would make him a contemporary of the person setting down the record and therefore invalidate the rest contained within.
The crux of the matter seemed to be a vow of truce. A peace accord possessing the eternal guarantee of Arthur himself had been in place, according to the journaler, for over four hundred years. A clan of people were living a bucolic life whose destruction the journal attempted to chronicle, a peace destroyed by the demon known as the Llofruddwyr, "murderer" in the Welsh tongue. The beast had been unleashed by betrayers of the truce, according to Julian’s meticulous notes.
How any of this ancient tragic story could lead to a suicide by a level-headed member of the Watchers Council and a cover letter that implied grave implications for the current Council was beyond Sir John’s imagination. It seemed the only recourse was to open the translation and begin at the beginning.
My name is Aethlem of the Clan Cunnah, they who reside along the river Tywi near the settlement of Caerfyrddin. I am setting down the account of the destruction of my people by the great evil, the bringer of death, Llofruddwyr, in the year of Our Lord 582.
Our clan has lived and farmed this same land from the time of the Old Ones, those mighty giants of legend. We chose the way of peaceful co-existence with all other (unable to translate word but assume ‘clan’ or ‘group’ contextually). The people of Caerfyrddin trade freely with us and have even mixed bloodlines with our clan. Our artistry with clay is renowned through all of Cymru and prized for its workmanship and beauty.
We have grown the thistles that make the most flavorful (untranslatable word for a long forgotten recipe. It seems a form of stew or soup). We have harvested from the vine and made cheeses from the goats and sheep our young tend. Our women were proud of their woven goods dyed in the bright yellow of the sun, blue of the sky and red of lifes-blood. None could fault the thatchwork of our roofers nor the hard work of our people who lived among the Demetae.
There were no thieves among us, nor takers of life. Our people have long embraced the teachings of the Master that many of the Romans brought with them.
Our clan embraced these teachings, this Christianity, even before the Jutes and the Irish. Did not our monks shave their heads in the same manner as the Celts? Did not St. Dyfrig himself bring about the treaty of peace signed by Arthur soon after solemnising the binding of that great king and his lady wife? Did we not set out to live by the guidelines of the Master and do no harm?
I ask forgiveness for the bitterness in my questions. It is difficult to understand what my clan might have done to incur the wrath of those who (unclear translation but ‘control’ is the closest to the true meaning) the bringer of death. We are blemished souls, as are all fallen creatures. Still, we did not embrace evil. We set aside the ways of our Old Ones and abided in peace and good will. It is painful for me to remember the betrayal of all we held as right and true.
I suppose I should begin at the beginning, as this is the final record of a lost people. I am the only one left to tell the tale.
There had been rumors of strangers from the North and East. They had been searching the area near Merlin’s Hill for artifacts mystical in nature. These men noticed our daughters and seemed to find them fair to look upon. More than one of our maidens were reprimanded for allowing these strange men to be alone in their company. I do not wish to make it seem that any lost their virtue to these strangers; indeed our daughters were all that one would hope.
The leader of these strangers sought out our Fylasuyfk (uncertain of translation but it is the term for ‘clan leader’). The Fylasuyfk held the wisdom of great age and the trust of one raised in peace and tranquility. He did not distrust these strange men. Had he not pronounced the travelers to be friends, I would never have welcomed the stranger into my home.
The stranger, Ewald by name, became a member of our household for all of that last summer. He ate at our tables and danced at our feasts. He had even begun to teach my youngest son to read the sacred texts from a copy he carried in his pack. The beautiful pages had been illuminated and written in the Ionian monasterry of Columcille, possibly by the great saint himself.
At last, the time had come to have the ceremony of oneness that would wed my precious Rhosyn to her Difyr in the way of our Clan from the beginning. The priest completed the Christian rites and the elders of our people blessed the couple. Ewald was given a seat of honor at the feast. He offered his blessings at that time and prayed God’s good fortune on the happy couple. His gift of five fine goats rich with milk and spirit gave much joy to the new family. Rhosyn was pleased to have her own small herd to produce the fine cheese she was known for as far away as Caerfyrddin.
None noted Ewald as he slipped from the tent. All the clan was gathered and celebrating the joy of the joining. All too soon the joy turned to terror as the one bringing death descended upon us all. The creature was terrible to see as she wielded axe and sword upon unarmed farmers. The blood of our dead ran as if a river and flowed to the banks of the Tywi. The strangers slaughtered our clan at the side of the Llofruddwyr, calling out in a language none of us understood.
Fylasuyfk humbled himself before the strangers, begging to be told what offence we were guilty of committing. The leader of these men gave as his answer the thrust of his sword. His smile was cruel as he wiped the blade on the robe of the old clan leader.
Rhosyn, daughter of my heart, knelt before Ewald and pled for mercy. Surely this stranger was a friend now and would stop this madness! He responded by dragging my daughter by her braids to the ravine behind the longhouse. I could hear her screams as I fought with all the strength of my hands the strangers who were killing my people.
I was flung to the side by one of these men and must have lost consciousness and been accounted among the dead. When I came to my senses once more, they were gone…as were my people. All of my clan lay about me, soaked in our azure liquid of life. All are gone now. My precious Rhosyn, happy beyond measure one moment and violated and murdered in the next was in the ravine, her head severed from her delicate neck. Her virtue was taken, not as a gift of love to her husband but in violence and pain by one called friend.
I must have wailed to the dark skies for hours. I have sworn myself to the Old Ones, having been betrayed by all I held to be good and decent in this world. There were watchers on the hills, tradesmen we had long dealt with from the other villages and peoples of Demetae. None lifted a hand to help as my people died.
The demon, this killer of my people with her wild hair of black and eyes of green must be made to pay for this massacre, this complete destruction of my people. Her too white skin that lays too tightly upon her bones will be split and she will drown in the red of her blood, I swear this by my ancestors. No more will the Llofruddwyr kill innocent people. No more treaties will be broken with their swords. No more will the strangers eat our harvest then defile our maids before laying waste to our species. No more peace.
There are other clans who live as we once lived. They live in peace and harmony, thinking honor will prevail. Treaties made in years past are honored by them. This document must be written and sent to the other clans so they shall know. There are more bringers of death, I am told. One replaces the fallen. The clans must know that men’s word is of no value and that death comes with no warning, no mercy.
I am Aethlem, the last of Clan Cunnah. I don the azure robes of the warrior long forgotten and disused. These hands that once formed clay into things of beauty shall now wield sword and axe until the hills run red with the blood of the betrayers. I stand witness to the duplicity and evil that is mankind. Beware all clans who seek to peacefully coexist. Trust not the tongue or treaty of they who watch. Flee the hand of the demon slayer who knows neither mercy nor compassion. She is chosen to destroy all with no regard to how we conduct our lives. It all ends with me.
Chapter 3 -- Implications and Decisions
Sir John glanced at the now empty bottle of fine single malt and rang for his apprentice. It would be best to keep all consultation between just the two of them. Julian was right--the implications were disturbing at the least.
All teachings of the Council underscored the necessity of ridding the Earth of demons. All demons were evil in intent and actions. This document, if true, seemed to be saying that there were demons living amongst humankind in peace, demons not hell-bent on destruction.
The depiction of the Chosen One as nothing more than a murderer, a demon to the demons, was disgusting to the genteel Watcher. The Slayer was supernaturally gifted by the Powers. To have the Chosen reduced on paper to one no better than the armies overrunning Europe was unthinkable.
"Ah, there you are," Sir John greeted his apprentice. "You need to read this for yourself, I think. It goes without saying that you are never to speak of what you read here to anyone but me. When you have completed the reading, we will decide the best course of action."
The apprentice puffed up with pride at being his hero’s only confidant in this obviously important matter. "Naturally I shall be the soul of discretion."
"Excellent, Quentin," Sir John nodded. "I’m grooming you for great things, my boy. You may sit in this chair one day and have the weight of the world upon your narrow shoulders. This will be an excellent test of your powers of reasoning."
Quentin Travers shook his head in complete agreement, eager to begin reading and reasoning.
"Every decision made has far-reaching consequences and not all are easily made. A man must have the fortitude to make the hard choices or he will end up as Julian, unable to go on."
Travers looked horrified at the concept. He had read the cover letter that Sir John had passed to him before motioning to the translation. "But, Sir…, I would never weaken in such a way. We are the only thing holding back the chaos and must never bow to sentiment or self-doubt."
"Good man, Quentin!" Sir John smiled at him. "I feel it in my bones that you are just the sort of man the Council will always need. Now go and read while I hunt down another bottle of this fine beverage."
Feathersham wandered from the office and began his quest for liquid absolution as the future head of the Watchers Council read. "Surely there must be some sort of record from that time," he muttered and turned his walk into the direction of the vast libraries.
It took a deal of searching to find the single bit of official information on the incident described in the demon’s indictment. It was a partial document written by one Aedelbert of Gloucester, Watcher of the Slayer Ealdgyd who was killed in the aftermath of the "battle that destroyed the demon race known as T’Ruossa".
The full account was lost to time, but the final words were still clear and easily to read in the Latin used to record them.
According to Aedelbert, the one demon overlooked in the glorious victory ambushed the Slayer and mutilated her beyond recognition as she slept. The girl had been fourteen and a Slayer for five months at the time of her death.
The short account ended with these words: "Many a good man was wounded exterminating the vermin. The traitorous primitives who had lived and traded with these demon scum were made to see the line that separates decent humanity and soulless evil. They now know to shun and avoid those that are clearly not in God’s image and likeness. The loose, blue skin and red eyes of the T’Ruossa should have clearly marked this blight as demonic. Those living in the wilds of Cymru will think twice before offering any such safe haven in the future. The berserker demon who took my Slayer’s life has been dispatched to hell to rejoin his fellows. All is secure once more and all glory be God’s. It is said that the new Chosen One has been called in Saxony."
After a short discussion wherein Sir John displayed the corroborating evidence that seemed to validate the heresy laid out in the translation, a decision was made.
Both men slept soundly after burning the contents of the packet sent by Julian Sater-Dewfield. It was a shame to tarnish that good man’s name, but it was the only right thing to do.
The following day it was sadly announced that madness, caused by alcohol and a feeble mind that sadly was hereditary, was at the root of Julian’s death. The project that had so consumed the man was lost to his madness as Julian had burned the tome in his demented state.
Neither Council stalwart felt a moment’s remorse. The battle against evil must always take precedence over possible mistakes and well-meant injustices in the mists of time. Whatever oddity had produced peaceable demons had naturally passed long ago and was of no concern to modern men. Why, the story itself was as unreliable as the accounts of the mythical Arthur, who had supposedly made the pact in the beginning! The book, like all dangerous materials, was better mixing its dust with that of vampires and other obviously evil things.
Once more the Council was at the forefront of preserving all that was good in mankind, all that was pure and right. Evil would find no purchase under their careful watch.