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Challenge #5 A Girl Called Mysti Munro

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  • Challenge #5 A Girl Called Mysti Munro

    Title: A Girl Called Mysti Munro
    Disclamer:I have no rights whatsoever on anything Joss & co came up with first.
    Setting: In the month or so before season 5
    Description: An attempt at writing an earnest Mary Sue piece.
    Word Count: 8075 (sorry)


    So, how did I first meet Mysti? Well it all started just like every other story I seem to tell; in a graveyard.

    I was on a solo patrol, Willow and Xander both doing the coupley thing and my own coupleyness pretty much nixed by Riley’s trip home to see the folks. It was getting late and I’d already swept most of the latest hot spots, slaying a couple of vamp new boys in the process but not really coming up against anything much worth reporting back to Giles and I guess I was considering making it an early night.

    That’s when I saw her though; her and the vamps.

    There were three of them two were holding her, each one grabbing an arm in a vice like grip and hissing and slavering at her in a truly gross way. The third stood in front of her and was milking the moment for all it was worth. I don’t know why vamps do this, why they feel like they have to turn even the simple kills into some kind of performance art, but I’m glad they do. It gives me time.

    I crouched by a gravestone and rescuing Mr Pointy from my bag, took a deep breath and prepared to wade in. As I regained my feet though, I realised that no wading would be needed.

    The girl the vamps were taking so much trouble over was tiny, smaller even than me with a whip-like thinness to her arms and legs and a waist I could probably make my hands reach round. She was quick though and she had obviously taken the vamps by surprise.

    One was already a fading scream and a handful of dust and of the other two one was laying on his side clutching his groin in a way that suggested an unexpected and sudden gelding had taken place. The other was backing away from the small girl, his hands raised in front of him to ward off the vision of doom approaching him.

    “Please” He said “I didn’t know it was you, if I’d known you were the Slayer I.... Please!”

    “Oh I’m not the slayer.” The girl said her voice deadly calm “I’m something much worse.” She reached the vamp just as its back hit a tree and smiled up at it as her stake struck home “I’m me.”

    Well to say I was surprised would be a waste of the word amazed. There was still one bad guy though and he had recovered and found his feet as the young girl had disposed of that second vamp. Now he was approaching her from behind. I thought fast and reversing my stake I threw it at the vamps exposed back where it hit with a wet smacking sound. The vamp paused for a second his back still turned to me and then he disappeared in a cloud of brown dust.

    As the remains of the vamp drifted away on the wind I found myself face to face with the girl, her big golden eyes locked on to mine

    “Hi.” She said “You must be Buffy. I’m Mysti.”


    ------------


    It turned out that her full name was Mysti Munro she was just sixteen years old and she had come to the graveyards of Sunnydale for a reason.

    “It’s a demon.” She said running a hand through the short mane of white-blonde hair that framed her delicate features and gazing in turn at those gathered in Giles apartment. “A demon that I intend to kill.”

    “Well traditionally, Buffy here does the demon killing thing. She tends to get a little put out if people start going freelance” Xander chimed in with a smile. He hadn’t taken his eyes off Mysti’s slim elfin form since she’d arrived, a fact that, luckily, Anya had yet to notice. “Besides” he continued “Demons have a tendency to be a touch on the vicious killing machine side.

    Well that was nice! Of course, I’ve known Xander for years and he knows full well what I can do but his readiness to throw me to the demons in Mysti’s place still stung a little.

    “She did just take out three vamps.” I reminded him “They were big guys as well. For a non-slayer that’s pretty damn impressive.”

    “Indeed it is” Said Giles from his place leaning against the counter “and I for one am quite curious as to how you came to be so… Adept, erm… Mysti.” He did his smile thing at her. You know that shy half smile that makes him seem so, well, British.

    “It’s a long story.”

    I rose from my seat and made my way over to Giles my arms crossed and my head down as I considered the young girl who despite what I knew of the nights events seemed so vulnerable, so very in need of some help.

    “Then I guess you’d better make a start.” I said.

    ------------


    “I was only five when my parents were killed.” She started a hesitant note in her clear voice “but I still remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday.

    The demon came for us at night, why it picked us out I don’t know, I don’t really care but come for us it did.” She shot me a glance “I was asleep of course but my mom’s screams were more than enough to wake me. How she actually died I can only really guess but the sight of her body will never, ever leave me. After it had killed her the thing had just ripped her to pieces. Blood and gore were everywhere, on the bed, on the walls, everywhere, and in the middle of it stood the thing, the demon.”

    Now I’ve dealt with the supernatural all my life. I saw my first vamp years before I was finally called but this early brush with evil left me stunned. How can someone live through that at that age and still function as a person? I mean… how?

    “The thing was maybe eight feet tall” she continued “and covered in these tough looking plates, like scales but bigger and overlapping. Its face was horrible, all teeth and bony growths, like horns but smaller.” She paused and licked her lips those golden eyes fixed on a point on the floor in front of her “It had my moms heart in its claws and it fixed me with these eyes that bored right into my soul. I ran of course, I mean I was a five year old girl what else could I do. I hurtled from the room and made my way downstairs, looking behind me at every turn, expecting to see that… thing right there behind me ready to scoop me up in those big claws.” She glanced up again, seeking reassurance and I gave her a small nod “It never came though and I managed to make it downstairs. I was heading for the door when I saw my fathers high backed chair turned away from me, facing the switched on T.V. I could just see his, arm resting on the side of the chair, one strong hairy arm with the tattoo I’d always loved. I looked at that arm and I knew that if I could just reach him, if I could get to him before the monster got me, then he would look after me and everything would be okay. I rushed over to him but…”

    “But the demon had already gotten to him?” Willow asked her voice small, her expression filled with awe.

    Mysti just nodded, giving Willow a small smile of gratitude. “I fled after that. I don’t know how long I ran for or where I thought I was going but eventually the cops picked me up and I remember falling asleep in the back of the patrol car; just passing out really from sheer terror and exhaustion.”

    There was a long moment of silences as all of us struggled to take in the scale of what this young girl had been through, trying to imagine, despite ourselves, just how horrible it must have been for her. Xander was the first to break the silence.

    “Okay so I get that you want this thing dead and I think I can speak for the room when I say I second that motion, but taking on an eight foot demon? I mean, I get that you held your own in the cemetery, and by the way kudos for that, but this guy sounds like he could be a gazillion times worse.”

    “Oh I can handle myself.” Mysti said with that small, faint smile. “After my parents were killed in I was taken in by various distant relatives but for one reason or another I never really settled in with any of them. Eventually I just ran away and made my way on to the streets. You learn a lot about life in a short time when you're living rough and you learn even more about yourself. Things really started to change for me when I met a man called Trevallyn. A man I think Mr Giles might know.”

    “Trevallyn?” Giles mused, a thoughtful expression on his face “Not, Peter Trevallyn?”
    Last edited by tangent; 16-04-08, 08:45 PM.
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  • #2
    “He said you would remember him.” Mysti said, with a slight smile “I know he always remembered you.”

    Giles must have felt our questioning gazes because he pushed himself away from the wall and started to explain.

    “Peter Trevallyn was a member of the Council when I first came under their tutelage. He was the master of combat training, responsible for training the watchers in the various martial arts we need to be able to pass on to our charges.” He shot me a fond, slightly embarassed look. “Peter was a human fighting machine, a master of at least seven different martial arts as well as being an expert with various styles of weaponry.”

    “And this guy trained you or something?” Willow asked Mysti.

    “Eventually.” She replied “Our paths crossed when he saved me from being attacked by some street bullies with nothing better to do. He fought off about five of them and then seeing what a state I was in, bought me a meal and even offered me a place to sleep that night. That was all it was just a warm place to sleep for one night, but for some reason one night turned to two, two to three and before long I was a permanent guest under his roof.

    At first I think he was just acting out of kindness but he had finished working for the council a long time ago and he was as alone in life as I was. It was that sense of loneliness, I think, that kept us together. In a way I think we each recognised something in the other that was reflected in ourselves.”

    There was another moment of silence as Mysti ran a hand through her white blonde hair obviously lost in some private memory.

    “I’d probably been with Peter for about a month when I finally told him about my parents.” She began again “Everywhere else I’d had my story treated as fantasy, as some kind of altered memory of what had really happened. Peter was the first person to believe me without question. It was then that I learned of how his life had been dedicated to the battle against things like the creature that killed my parents and how he had been responsible for training those who fought that battle. I think that was the first time that revenge ever really crossed my mind. The knowledge that it was possible to hunt these things down, to take the battle to them fascinated me. I didn’t sleep that night, kept awake by the thought of how it would feel to avenge myself on the creature that destroyed my life.”

    As she paused once more I took the opportunity to take a look around the room. Xander and Anya had grasped each others hands in an unconscious gesture that spoke volumes and there was a trace of moisture in Willows eyes. I glanced back at Anya wondering how much this slight girl’s need for vengeance would mean to her in the light of her own history. Looking at her face it seemed like it meant a lot.

    “It took perhaps three solid days of badgering for me to get what I wanted but I can be very persistent when I need to be” The blonde girl continued with a slight smile “and eventually Peter agreed to take me on as a student. The training was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. We spent practically every waking hour practicing moves and learning disciplines. Peter said I was a natural, making out that I was some kind of martial arts geniusette. If he was right it didn’t make the work any easier, but every time I felt like I’d had enough, every time my muscles ached like they were going to explode or the bruises were covering more of my body than I can politely mention I thought of that horrible face, those vicious teeth and I would throw myself into it all over again.”

    I glanced over at Giles and found his eyes already on me as the memory of our own training sessions rose in both our minds

    “I was ten when I killed my first vampire. Peter knew where to hunt them and he came with me the first few times, taking every precaution to make sure I was okay. It helped knowing that that old man who was so solid, so granite hard was there to protect me but every time I faced one of those creatures it was like I was facing a part of myself, and that was the part that hurt, that never stopped hurting. Killing vamps became like therapy to me and soon I was sneaking out and hunting them solo while Peter slept.” She paused, a faraway look creeping into those strange, clear eyes “Of course he caught me eventually.

    I snuck in one night just as dawn was breaking and he was there waiting for me. He didn’t shout, although I wouldn’t have really blamed him. He just spoke in a calm even voice, reminding me of why I was doing this, reminding me to stay focused on my goal and begging me not to throw it all away in some stupid brawl with a random street vamp. I promised him there and then that I would stop my night time excursions but I think he saw something in my eyes, or maybe there was some telltale quiver in my voice because I knew he didn’t believe me and I could see the sadness in his face.

    Two days later he told me about you. I guess the way he figured it if I was going to keep taking on the vampire I might as well do it beside the best.” She looked across at Giles “He also mentioned that if there was one person who could help me to track this thing down it would be Mr Giles here.

    So that was that really. I packed my things and I left the closest thing I’ve got left to family to come and find you. I know I have no right to ask and I know you’ve got your own problems but I am going to find this thing and I am going to kill it. If you guys have anything that might help make that even a little easier it, well, I’d definitely appreciate it.”

    Everyone in the room was suddenly looking at me, like I was some kind of eye-magnet or something. They were waiting; waiting for me to make a decision.

    “Alright” I said “What can we do?”
    Last edited by tangent; 17-02-08, 10:08 PM.
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    • #3
      What we could do turned out to be mainly something we’d gotten to be pretty good at over the years and that was research. I say we but I’m not really one for the big dusty grimoires so it fell to me to keep Mysti occupied while the gang hit the books to look for some clues as to what kind of demon we were looking for and where we might find it.

      Now, Sunnydale isn’t actually all that interesting a town by daylight, despite the fun and happenin’ life and death struggles offered by its vibrant nightlife so it really wasn’t all that much of a surprise that early afternoon saw us sat over two lattes in the espresso pump completely Sunnydaled out.

      “So this is really the site of the Hellmouth then?” She asked “The place where the most evil creatures on earth come to be that little bit more evil.”

      “Yup”

      She sipped her coffee and gazed thoughtfully at the few pedestrians making their way through the quiet streets. “You know I thought it would be bigger.”

      I had to smile. Despite the young girls traumatic past and the dangerous life she had chosen Mysti had this dry knowing wit that seemed like it should belong to someone a lot older. It was a quality that made her easy to be with and before too long we were chatting away like old friends.

      It was then that I found out just how alone Mysti really was. She had come all the way to Sunnydale knowing no-one and with nowhere to stay, her sole possessions the few items that were contained in her backpack. Well of course I couldn’t see her sleeping on the street so after a quick call to my mom we made a beeline for the Summers' household.

      Of course practically before we were through the door mom was making a total fuss over Mysti, taking a more than healthy interest in every little detail the small girl cared to spill, taking every pain to make sure she was comfortable and generally clucking over her like some kind of mother hen. I couldn’t help thinking of the night I brought Faith over for the first time and the similar welcome that she had received. That time it had caused me some problems of the green eyed monster variety but with Mysti it all just seemed, well, natural in a way. She was so humble and self-effacing about the attention that you almost had to feel sorry for her as she beat back the full force of hurricane Joyce.

      Surprisingly Mysti even got on with Dawn, something I didn’t think was actually physically possible.

      It’s weird, you know, thinking back, that Dawn wasn’t really there then. My memories of the two of them together gossiping and giggling are so real, so vivid. It makes me wonder if Mysti remembers her. I hope so, it would be kind of sad if she didn’t. The two had started with a discussion sparked by Dawn’s comments about some actor or other and the hotness of the same and before long they were in gales of laughter over the latest goss regarding the antics of Dawns friend Janice. In a way, a very real way, Mysti kind of became one of the family that night.

      It was lucky too that Mysti settled in so well because as it turned out her stay with us was a little longer than we anticipated. The gang had gone through the books and I mean all the books within a couple of days, but they still hadn’t found fact one about our boy other than it appeared to be a single demon rather than a breed and that it had made irregular appearances in random locations for the best part of the last hundred years, always accompanied by the same kind of slaughter Mysti had witnessed. On where it might make its home in between attacks there was nothing. I have to say that I kind of had my suspicions though.

      I think I would have been tearing the walls down to try and find this thing if I was in Mysti’s shoes but the petite white haired girl was patience personified. This was probably helped by the frequent updates that reached the house, usually delivered in person by Xander, Willow, Giles or Tara. Even Anya seemed to be spending more and more of her time at the house sometime without even the pretence of an excuse.

      Unfortunately as many visits and as many updates as we got most of them were effectively repetitions of the same message with ‘Nothing to report’ all there was to report. Mysti took each of these messages in the same way, with a polite thank you and an air of quiet resignation.

      And all the time she seemed to become more and more an integral part of the Summers household. She helped my mom with the household chores even taking over cooking duties (and boy could she cook). She helped Dawn too, running through some of her summer school workload with her. To say Mysti had lived, in turn, on the streets and with a martial arts guru she was incredibly knowledgeable and taught Dawn all sorts of new things on a range of subjects. It seemed like she knew at least a little about everything from Gnu’s to Golgi apparatus (which still sounds like something you find in a gym to me!) Where I noticed her impact the most, however was in the help she offered me.

      It would have been downright rude of me not to take Mysti out on patrol with me after I had seen what she had done to those three vamps on the night of our first meeting, stupid too. The small slim girl was a fighter like no other I’d ever seen; whirling and dancing around the lunges of her enemies like they weren’t there and then pressing her own attack forward with such speed and accuracy that the fight was pretty much over before the vamps had even realised what was happening. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had it easier, slayage-wise than in the few weeks Mysti was with us not even during Faith’s pre-homicidal days. The girl was that good, slayer good, maybe even better. I look back now on those weeks as perhaps one of the happiest of my life. Everything seemed somehow balanced, somehow right and I think the small, slim girl with her white-blond hair, her strange golden eyes and her slight, impish smile was a big part in that. Everything she did, everything she was just seemed somehow right. Spike, our friendly neighbourhood anti-anti hero has this term he uses for someone who leaves themselves open to nasty gossip. He calls it “Slag-offability” and I think that anyone else with Mysti’s abilities would have been in for a more than healthy dose of that. Mysti though carried herself with such grace and nobility that it would have taken a very harsh judge to lay even the smallest criticism at her door.

      I knew though that these perfect days couldn’t last forever, that there was a darkness hovering on the horizon that could signal the coming night, and so it would prove to be.
      Last edited by tangent; 16-04-08, 08:53 PM.
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      • #4
        The news came from Giles. He had got word to his contacts in the world of the occult, pulling in favours he had nearly forgot, in order to get his hands on the information but what he had learned had been well worth it.

        It looked like my gut feelings had been right because once again the big bad made it's home in the same place I did: good old Sunnydale. In fact this particular nasty liked to hang out as close to the hellmouth as possible, probably just to soak in those evil vibes while it hibernated away. Then every twelve years it would wake up and the killings would start. The creature fed on the death agonies of the people it slaughtered, eating their hearts to absorb their pain and fear in some mystic way. I kept that bit of information away from Mysti, figuring it was more that she needed to know.

        The most important piece of info though was that, according to the known timetable it was due to wake up any day now and that when it did it was vulnerable.

        The thing was all but unkillable when it had fed, but when it had just come out of its hibernation, before it had killed, it could be destroyed by a simple blade thrust into its heart. And so, armed with this knowledge we reconvened in Giles' apartment where Giles had laid out a map of the known caves, crypts and other handy hidey-holes that seemed most promising as potential lairs for the creature.

        “The demon would seem to be a creature of habit” Giles began “And bearing in mind the limited information we have to its past movement, its presence in Sunnydale and what we know of the existing vampire and demon populations' presence in the area I believe we should concentrate our search here, here, and here.” He said, indicating a series of caves, a lone crypt and an area of forest to the west of the former high school.

        Mysti leaned closer to the map a slight frown marring her delicate features. “What about here?” she asked pointing at an unusual looking feature to the north. “What's that?”

        “Interesting.” Giles said in that distracted way that means he’s deep in thought “It would appear to be a disused mineshaft of some sort although I haven’t come across too much information of mining activity in that particular area.”

        “You mean you missed out on the great Sunnydale gold rush of 1852?” Xander said in a gently mocking tone. “Well colour me stunned.”

        “Yes, thank you Xander.” Giles replied “I’ll have you know I’m not quite that old. When it comes to demon lairs however, it does however pay to know exactly where the deepest darkest holes of Sunnydale are situated.”

        After a brief discussion and a little more squabbling we decided that the best way to cover the ground was to split up. Giles stressed that this was strictly a reconnaissance mission, giving us all orders to scope out the lie of the land and report back with any findings so that we could prepare an attack in force. We paired up, although I think if everyone had been able to have their way we would all have chosen to team up with Mysti. For some reason though, the small girl decided that I was to be her partner for this particular excursion, turning down the other offers with a polite firmness.

        Once the teams were agreed on we took our assignments and headed out into the waiting night.

        Of course we had chosen to investigate the abandoned mine. Mysti had sensed something about that particular location as soon as she had seen it on the map and I wasn’t about to argue against that kind of intuition. It had come in far too useful in my own work for me to disregard it. So, after a short while we split from the others and made our way northwards.

        We had been walking for around ten minutes when Mysti broke the silence.

        “Buffy, I – I just want to thank you for all that you’ve done for me.” She said. “I know it can’t have been easy to let a complete stranger take over your life like this. You and the others have given up so much to help me. I guess I just want you to know that, well, it means a lot to me. More than I can put into words really.”

        I looked down at her, noticing how the moonlight made her white hair almost glow. “Hey, we’re not done yet.” I reminded her “there’s time for whatever thanks you think are necessary later. For now let’s just concentrate on finding this thing.”

        Looking back I should probably have picked up on the signals then. The only real excuse I have is the mounting sense of anticipation that was tingling through me.

        We made good time and it wasn’t long before the yawning mouth of the shaft stood before us. It obviously hadn’t been used for some time and a number of shrubs had partially obscured the entrance. At some point the encroaching roots of these plants had forced away some of the beams supporting the left hand side of the entrance and the whole thing combined to give it an eerie, lopsided look that had my slayer sense screaming danger.
        Last edited by tangent; 17-02-08, 10:02 PM.
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        • #5
          The inside of the shaft was no more cheerful. The rocky walls were uneven and course with the occasional patch of greenish-yellow lichen growing here and there. The silence was almost deafening, disturbed only by our own footfalls and the faint drip-drip of water from somewhere in the distance.

          We lit our torches and began to descend into the gloom, neither of us speaking, both watchful. The sense of foreboding that had crept up on me at the entrance to the shaft was still with me and whether Mysti felt it too or was just picking up something of it from myself; I could almost feel the tension running through her slight frame.

          It was like the tunnel went on forever, getting steeper and steeper the further we went until eventually, after what seemed like hours we came to a dead end.

          The tunnel widened out into a small cave like opening, the only features of which were a small clear pool of water and the pile of rock and rubble that stood directly in our path, probably the result of one of the apocalypsey earthquakes that tend to crop up in these parts every few years. It looked like the search was over, like the tension that coursed through me had been wasted.

          I was about to say something of that nature to Mysti but as I turned towards her I saw her standing stock still a distant look of concentration marring her perfect features.

          "It's here Buffy." She whispered "it's right behind this rubble. I can feel it."

          There was a certainty in her voice that just couldn't be argued with but more than that there was a feeling inside me that echoed that certainty. A sense of evil was emanating from behind the wall, a feeling so real that you could almost touch it, like if you reached out with your eyes closed it would be there all around you, closing in on you. I looked again at the wall of stone searching for some way past it, some chink of light maybe that would indicate a weak spot or a hidden door but all that I saw was a solid mass of rock that would take more time than we had to clear.

          "There has to be a way past it." Mysti said, apparently going through the same thought process I was "if we can't get in, how can the demon get out?"

          And of course that was true. For the creature to be able to leave its den on killing sprees it needed a way in and out. The wall of rock had obviously been there for a long time the stones almost turned into a solid mass by their own weight. It wasn't just a case of one of the recent quakes trapping it so how did the thing get out?

          "The water!" Mysti said, excitement making her golden eyes almost glow. "It has to be the water. In a lot of caves there are underwater caverns that connect to the ones above. What if the cave in caused that to happen here? What if we could swim through?"

          It was a brilliant idea; one that I think would never have occurred to me but it was also a scary one. The thought of diving under water with no idea of where or when I could surface again sent a shiver down my spine. Mysti didn't appear to have any such qualms however. She has already stripped off her coat and removed her shoes in readiness for the dive. She padded carefully over the bear rock to the side of the small pool and treated me to an enquiring glance.

          "Coming?" she asked

          Well what could I do? I remove my own coat and shoes, taking off the warm sweater I had on too and followed her to the pools edge.

          "Looks deep." I said peering into the murky depths.

          "Yeah" Mysti replied "but that's good. Means there's more chance of it going right through. You ready?"

          "Hang on" I said, emptying the back pack I had brought with me "we're gonna need some weapons, just in case."

          I selected two long bladed dirks from the selection I had brought with me. They were long enough to penetrate a fair amount of armoured skin but light enough not to get us drowned. Not bad weapons to have by your side should anything go wrong. We tucked the blades into our pants grasped each others hands and taking a long last breath stepped into the deep dark water.

          One thing about water you find in old mine shaft is that it's hardly ever nice and warm and this particular water didn't buck the trend. It was freezing! The sudden shock of diving into the icy pool nearly forced the breath back out of my body before we'd even started our underwater swim. Not a great start. Beside me Mysti didn't seem to be having any such problems and she actually flashed me a little grin when she saw the look on my face, a little stream of bubbles escaping from each side of her mouth as she did.

          But time was of the essence and we couldn't use it up on underwater frolics so I grabbed Mysti's hand and kicked out, heading down. Luckily I caught site of a tunnel that seemed to lead off in the right direction almost immediately so I tugged Mysti's arm and pointed to the opening, beckoning for her to follow. It was pretty clear that the tunnel we were swimming through had been formed in the same collapse as the wall above it, its sides uneven and rough, shaped from the same kind of rocky debris. The white haired girls was a strong swimmer though and before long she was taking the lead, her small frame dodging between the jagged rocks that stuck out from the sides of the makeshift tunnel with ease.

          The swim was surreal. The water, which was murky at best, limited vision to just a few feet and of course there was a lack of sound that gave the whole thing a timeless kind of quality that made it even spookier.

          Just as I was beginning to really doubt that I'd ever taste air again I caught sight of a change in the texture of the gloom, a chink of fractured light that called us forward promising escape from this watery prison. Mysti had seen it too and was already striking out in that direction. I must admit that the girl's stamina was frighteningly good, I mean I'm a slayer I've been gifted with muscles that don't easily tire and a lung capacity a dolphin would be proud of, but Mysti just kept striking forward with an effortless grace. It was like she was just going through a few lengths in the local swimming pool.

          It can't have been that easy though, I know it can't. As we struck out for the shining patch of light I felt the burning in my own lungs and I know Mysti must have felt the same.

          The ascent took an age each stroke harder and more painful but with each one the light grew in size and intensity until the water itself appeared to be glowing. And then finally, with an explosion of breath, we broke the surface and tasted the dank, fetid air of the demon's lair.
          Last edited by tangent; 17-02-08, 10:25 PM.
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          • #6
            We dragged ourselves out of the chill water and laid flat by it's side for a while, taking in long deep breaths as we recovered from our swim.

            It was almost pitch black in this section of the mine and of course we hadn’t been able to bring our torches with us but I’ve always had good night vision and I soon found my eyes becoming accustomed to the gloom. I glanced over at Mysti but she didn’t seem to be having any trouble with the lack of light either and was already sat on her haunches peering into the recesses of the grotto that opened up before us. It was a massive space and the cave in had given it a random rough hewn look you could almost mistake for a natural cave if it wasn’t for the odd glimpse of old support beams jutting out amongst the rock and dirt like wooden bones.

            Mysti turned to me suddenly, and I could almost fell the excitement pouring out of her. “There.” She whispered “Over there, look.”

            I followed her pointing finger and could just make out a large flat rock that had come to rest near the back of the chamber. It was tilted slightly away from me and obscured slightly by a pile of debris but if I squinted a little and looked real close I could just about make out something lying on its surface, something that could almost be a body. I straightened and, with extreme care, edged my way slowly towards the shape, motioning Mysti to follow me.

            As we moved across the rough ground I kept my eyes firmly on the form before us. With each step it came further and further into focus, shadows that blurred the edges of it melting away to allow it's contours and outlines to leap into greater contrast from its surroundings. Finally when we were maybe ten feet away we saw the demon in all its horrible glory.

            The thing was just as big as Mysti had said and maybe twice as ugly. The bony plates that covered its body perhaps a couple of inches wide and overlapping like a suit of armour. On the end of its long muscular arms were claws that would put a velociraptor to shame.

            I felt a thrill run down my spine as I watched it laying there in perfect stillness. It was a creature that would have caused even me to hesitate before fighting, even with full magical back up, but this brave young girl beside me had actually searched for this monster; alone and powerless with only the vaguest promise of help, help that might not have even existed, to carry her forward.

            But some things are worth any amount of personal risk. Some things burn so deeply and so hot that people will take on any danger without any fear or care for their own safety, and one glance across at those liquid gold eyes and the emotions that reflected in them so clearly was more than enough to tell me that this was one of those things.

            I thought I was ready for it but Mysti was so quick I nearly didn’t make it. Almost quicker than the eye could follow she drew the dirk and started to make her way, resolutely, to the demons resting place. I only just managed to lay a hand on her shoulder before she was away from me and upon feeling the touch of my hand she span towards me sudden anger in her eyes.

            “Reconnaissance only.” I reminded her “We don’t know what kind of defences this thing has. We regroup at the Magic Box and come back tomorrow, in full force, with Willow to scope out any bad mojo this thing’s running.”

            The frustration on Mysti’s face was clear. “But look at it.” She said. “It’s just lying there, helpless. If we go back, if this thing wakes up, we could lose our chance and it could kill again. Some other girl could have her family taken from her just like mine were. I don't think I could live with myself if that happened, could you?”

            I had thought that Mysti’s only motivation was to avenge her parents but she was obviously thinking of much more than any personal revenge and her words rang, horribly true. If we allowed the Demon the time to move on, to come out of its hibernation and claim more lives then those deaths would be on our conscience. I let out a long sigh and made up my mind.

            “Okay but we do this quick and quiet. No fuss, no ceremony, just a clean kill. I know what this means to you Mysti but we can’t take any chances.

            Mysti considered this for a few moments running a hand though her thick white hair. Finally she looked up at me.

            “I get to kill it though, right.” She asked.

            I nodded silently. There was no way I could deny the small girl what she had given so much to claim.

            And so it was that we crept right up to the side of the beast. It was laid so still, so perfectly motionless that, but for the slight rise and fall of its chest it might have been dead already. I drew my weapon and stood beside Mysti watching her face as with trembling hands she raised her own blade.

            “This is for my parents.” She said in a hoarse whisper, a single tear running down her perfect face “For my Mom and my Dad.” And then she struck.

            The knife descended with deadly force and accuracy, speeding towards the demon’s unprotected heart. But as it cut through the air the demons eyes flashed open, as red and bright as fire and its hand shot out grasping the blade fractions of an inch from its target.

            There was perhaps two or three seconds where nobody moved, the two locked together like some weird statue. Then the demon gave an almighty roar and rose, throwing Mysti aside like a rag doll. I only just had time to see her slam hard into a fallen rock and slump to the ground, the knife dancing away from her grasp before the thing turned its head and launched itself at me.

            It was strong and tough but not exactly fast so its first attacks were easy enough to avoid and I leapt back trying to give myself as much room as possible. I hadn’t anticipated taking the thing on one to one but with Mysti down and the demon not too happy about its early wake up call I didn’t really have too many options. One thing I did know was that Mysti would have her vengeance. If it cost me my life the demon would not leave the mine.

            I pressed home a few attacks, staying mindful of those long arms and those razor sharp claws, but the thing was well armoured and every blow was warded off by the tough plates that covered it’s arms and torso and once again I found myself forced on to the back foot. The fight went on like this for what seemed like a lifetime but I knew it couldn’t last, I was tiring. The muscles in my sword arm, still feeling the affects of my swimming excursions burned with lactic acid, screaming with every single thrust and swing.

            Perhaps it was this fatigue or maybe I just got careless, I can’t really say. All I do know is that as the demon forced me back I somehow lost my footing, my usual slayer grace deserting me for once, and I went down in a heap. The fall took the wind clean out of my sails and I looked up to see those fiery red eyes gleaming down at me from the demons fanged face. I knew that this was it, that I had fought my last fight. There was no strength left in my arms, no hope in my heart. It was over.

            The demon gave a deep growl, filled with triumphant bloodlust and raised a clawed hand ready to strike, and then… It froze.

            A strange look crossed its inhuman face, a mixture of pain, shock, and puzzlement. It gave another growl, this time lower and containing a questioning note before falling slowly to its knees. Giving me a last puzzled look it collapsed to the side revealing the knife handle that sprouted from its back.

            And of course that wasn’t all that it revealed because stood behind the fallen demon was the small slim form of Mysti Munro, her white hair stained red with blood.

            “There’s more than one way to get at the heart.” She said flashing that knowing half smile at me and then she too fell crashing to the cavern floor.
            Last edited by tangent; 17-02-08, 11:28 PM.
            JUST ENOUGH KILL

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            • #7
              It took me a few minutes to bring her round again, but eventually and much to my relief, her golden eyes opened and she looked up at me from where she lay in my lap.

              “I did it Buffy.” She said with a weak smile “I killed it for them. Just like I said I would.”

              “You did.” I agreed, looking over at the demons corpse “Your parents would be proud. Now how about we get out of here?”

              Mysti looked up at me and gave a small snort of laughter that turned quickly into a hacking cough “I’m sorry Buffy” she said “but I don’t think I’m going anywhere. I’m hurt, bad. No way I can survive the swim.”

              My heart broke as I gazed down at the small, broken form in my arms. Mysti had lived a life so full of horror and sadness. Now, when she had achieved the very thing she had dedicated that tragic life to, fate had decided to take from her one last sacrifice. It was so cruel, so very unfair that everything inside me rebelled against this final irony and I decided, there and then, that this was not going to happen.

              “I’m not leaving you Mysti.” I said “I’m going to find willow and the others, then we can get you back to the shop, Willow and Tara and Giles, they'll know what to do. They've got spells and potions. They can heal you. They can get you better, but you have to do something for me. You have to be strong Mysti. You have to hold on until I get back. Just hold on Mysti; please, just hold on.”

              Again Mysti managed a small smile through the pain “I’ll see what I can do” she said.

              I made my way back out of the mine the way we came and ran until I thought my lungs would burst until eventually I found Willow and Tara.

              The two wiccans had quite naturally chosen to pair up as the teams for the nights work had been decided and luckily for me they had also chosen to explore the nearest system of caves. I quickly informed them of the situation, explaining just what was needed and thankfully they agreed that they would probably be able to help. We rushed back to the abandoned mine, moving as quickly as we could.

              I guess we must have been back at the mine within thirty minutes or so, each single one of those minutes seeming like an endless lifetime. I couldn’t help but picture the worst, seeing that small frail form lying forlorn and lifeless by the side of the monster that had killed her. As quickly as the image rose in my mind I tried to banish it. Just the thought of losing Mysti like that sent my senses reeling; the idea almost too much for me to bear.

              When we reached the demons grotto though, the sight that met our eyes was totally and utterly unexpected. The demon lay there curled in the same half kneeling position in which I’d left it, but of Mysti there was not a single sign.

              To this day I don’t know what happened to her. There was a small bloody smear by the side of the pool's mouth but what that means I’m not sure. Mysti had declared herself too badly injured for the swim and I had no reason to doubt her, she certainly hadn’t looked like she would have been able to make it. What I do know though is wherever she is, whatever happened to her one thing will always be true.

              In the short time that Mysti stayed with us she touched the lives of all those around her in so many small but meaningful ways that it’s almost impossible to count. Dawn cried when I told her that the small girl had gone and even now I don’t think she really accepts that she won’t just turn up at the door someday. I think even Giles’ usual glasses cleaning seemed to be hiding a much stronger emotion than it might usually as he agreed to contact Peter Trevallyn and let him know what had happened. As for me; Mysti showed me so much of what grace and courage really is.

              Mysti was the strongest, the truest person I have ever known. She was every neo-superlative you could ever think of, the summit of all that’s best in any of us.

              But more than any of that, more than anything else; she was Mysti.
              Last edited by tangent; 17-02-08, 10:47 PM.
              JUST ENOUGH KILL

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