history lesson-


The Nature Of Things
by nostalgia


A Slayer is a weapon. A sharp blade to slide into the enemy, to spill the blood from one and then move onto the next. To pierce dead hearts with stakes and to throw the correct magical dagger with the necessary level of accuracy.

A gun is useless if without bullets.

Without ammunition, there is at first deterrence, but once the secret is out - and secrets always find ways to spread, it's in their nature - all you have is cold metal, empty form.

One girl in all the world. One. One weapon, one attack.

But not one saviour, and certainly not one defence.

There are the others; the ones without the strength or the speed, who bring death in other, less polite ways.

They are as old as the Slayers. Older.

(form - legato)

When the first girl to have the powers stood up on the beach and drove a branch through the chest of one of the demons she was not alone. The medicine-woman, who knew from her mother and from her mother before her how to mix the potions and recite the words, was there. She stood on the dunes and watched as something new was born, as a human fought back in single combat with the beasts.

She had brought this girl into being.

She had sat in front of the flames, eyes wide, chanting past the hours, over and over. Reciting and calling and pleading till her throat was rough and threatened to close up with each repitition. This was the spell her grandmother had tried, the one that had never worked for anyone. For as long as the tribe-memory had existed, the words had never been enough. The stars were never right, or the sun was unhappy or the moon just wasn't paying attention - always some excuse for the failure everyone knew to be inevitable.

But she had tried, going into the trance for hours, calling out to anything that was willing to listen. She had run the knife along her arm, the edge drawing her blood into the fire, merging the two elements like sand and water. Making something new.

She watched. She watched the dark places as she had been taught to, she watched the tribe as they slept, to keep them safe from the things that stalked them in the night. She watched and she waited for the one with the stronger blood to arrive.

She watched the girl on the beach, racing along the sand with a speed her kind should never have had. There was no pride from watching this incarnation of the magic, because she knew that soon the girl would die, and she would have to make another.

But before the girl was taken others would not be. A sacrifice to the dark ones, something for them to hunt instead of the children.

And when the girl was tired and the monster was dead she walked down from the dunes towards the shore, where the girl lay in shallow water, crying.

And she knelt next to her creation, wiped the saltwater from wide eyes with sandy fingers. She ran careful hands over the muscles that had formed under dark skin and saw that it was good. Better than any of the humans, as good as any of the beasts. A hybrid, though the word did not yet exist and it wasn't really true. There would be a price for this later, but for now the tribe had the weapon that it needed. They could be safe.

The girl was restless, young. She wanted to run and swim and mate and hunt. The woman watched her as she ran along the beach, faster each morning, and wondered how long this new creature would survive.

The demons learned to fear this strange new human, the female who took their hearts with her fingers, tearing them from empty chests. They called her the Slayer, a myth as old as they were.

And watch out for that one, the one who watches. She brought the girl here, she made her to fight us. She is Wisdom.

The woman taught the girl where to aim the stakes, how to throw the spears. Taught her how to race faster than a lion and pull it down, holding its mane as it struggled against the riverwater that filled its lungs. The woman told her about the dark places, how to tell what demons came from where, how to destroy each one.

But the girl could never learn these last things. And with this the woman realised that the girl could never fight alone. This was part of the sacrifice. So the woman stood and watched as the girl ran and jumped and fought. She watched the monsters, calling to the air and the stars to bring her magics. She was the arm that threw the spear. She was the one the demons called the Watcher.

She chose from the tribe a servant, because her own daughter was yet too young to learn about the dark places, not yet touched by the protective blood. So she went among the people and she asked the gods to find the one she needed. They gave her an orphan-boy, showed her that he had skill in the wrong sort of body. This was fixable, said the air, and showed her how.

So when the moon was fat and round she took him onto the dunes and cut his hand, rubbing her blood into his. She made him whole, let him see the darkness. And then she sat him down by the fire and taught him how to call the spirits, named the demons for him.

She had two now, the dagger and the cauldron. She taught one to kill and one to watch, each to protect the other. When her own child was old enough to learn she sent the cauldron off into the desert to help the other tribes. Their strength lay in their numbers, using words to keep out the darkness. They could defend even if they could not attack, the knowledge that they used to guide the Slayer could be used to guard those that the girl could not reach.

She was watching when her creation was destroyed.

The girl was slower now, too assured of victory. Her throat was taken by a demon as the sun appeared on the horizon, death arriving with the dawn.

The woman took the empty Slayer and burned her, using the ashes to call a new spirit forward. There would be another, and another after her. All of them the girl who had fought on the beach and fallen into the waves. Each one formed from the ashes of the one before, each Slayer an aspect of the first.

And the woman would watch over each of them, because her blood ran in them all.