history lesson-


Her Mother's House
by Soren Nyrond

The way it worked was organization.

Her cottage (her mother's, except that the tree had crushed her and not Eithene -- and really only theirs because, when Daddy had died, in the war, so had the Baron, and his steward, so no-one was left to say they weren't free-holders)...anyway, her cottage overlooked the graveyard (none of the priests had wanted it anywhere near their house, and the distance gave an excuse for a procession, with incense and chanting, when the mourners paid enough)...overlooked the graveyard, so it was simply a matter of being awake at midnight, and, as the vampires dug their way out, and headed to the one gateway, of shooting them with the crossbow.

The Doctor had brought her the crossbow. At first she'd thought she wouldn't be strong enough to pull the string back, and that it would be heavy and that aiming it would be... Then she'd touched it and everything had come together. Tug here, nock the bolt, turn, aim, fire, reload, shoot again if it was necessary . Increasingly it wasn't -- one hit was all it took. Except for the ones with the hearts the other side. First few times she hadn't believed God could make people turned all around. But then it became straight-forward. If Bolt number-one didn't do It, aim for the other side of the chest and fire again.

The hardest thing was Brendan. She couldn't really fall in love with him if she was going to die -- and the Doctor had been definite about that: "Few Slayers reach eighteen. You have maybe three years before something happens."

It hadn't happened with the multi-armed thing from the swamp. It hadn't been a vampire, but the crossbow had worked just as well with the big eye it had had buried behind all those arms...or legs...or whatever.

With the golem, she'd had to use a hammer. The Doctor had been looking in his scrolls for the right incantation, but Eithene knew where Daddy had kept the big hammer, the one he'd used for breaking up the rocks to make planting easier. And the Doctor had said the golem was just a big rock statue than could walk. After Eithene had finished with it, it was a rockery garden which couldn't walk.

The priest -- Father Prophet -- had been harder. Well, he was a man, not a monster. Though the Doctor said he'd abandoned his vows and given himself over totally to the Dark Side. Of course, he had been able to walk around in the daytime. But his evil -- his plan to raise the entire graveyard to do Evil's bidding had had to be carried out at night, and he'd needed to recruit others to help him.

Brendan heard about it -- he hadn't been invited to the meeting, but he'd listened anyway -- and he'd told Eithene all about it. It was three nights before the new moon, so Eithene had taken time to go and talk to Father Prophet. At first he'd seemed quite a nice man -- a little reserved, perhaps, but Eithene knew her place: no-one was supposed to question the Church's teachings, women least of all. But the Doctor had taught her to check everything, and when she had hinted about witchcraft, she had seen the light enter his eyes.

Brendan had helped her watch Father Prophet and when he'd gone to the graveyard to check that everything was ready, before he went to round up the three or four people he'd talked into assisting him, they had been there. She had let Brendan have the crossbow, and the Doctor had come along, too.

"You're going to carry out the Ritual of Thot-Loki, aren't you ?"

"What would you know about such things, girl ? Stand aside."

"I told her."

The next bit hadn't been anything Eithene understood -- it put Brendan down like he had died, and the Doctor staggered. And Eithene had simply hoiked up her skirts, and kicked Father Prophet where (if he were a priest) the injuries wouldn't really matter, and then

She wasn't proud of it...if he had surrendered she would have let him live. But two of her uncles were buried there, and he kept shouting words at the graves, and on one or two the earth had started to move... He'd gasped a bit when she plunged the stake in but then his eyes had opened wide and the breath -- the black, stinking breath -- had left him, and it had all been over.

Still, if she couldn't fall in love with him, and had to keep him thinking she didn't care for him was just using him, that didn't mean she couldn't watch him, and enjoy seeing him going about his work each day.

And at least if she stopped them getting out of the graveyard, they couldn't do anything to him.