This is a derivative work. All BtVS characters appearing in this fic belong to or were created by Joss Whedon, and Mutant Enemy. But the story idea, and any original characters belong to me.Spoilers:
For all properties involved. BtVS - post Season 7 (no comic canon involved)Author's Note:
Occurs right before The Devil's Girl
. The Memorial Wall Dawn is sitting in front of is described in detail in For the benefit of Ms. Kite
. Author's Note:
This Slayer creation myth only applies to this series and not to any other of my stories. It is obviously not even remotely canon. It's mostly background for the series that didn't fit anywhere else - and is an experiment. There are a number of more in depth/involved slayer creation stories on TtH. A good example being Philster's Legend of the Slayer
"Hey," a subdued voice said, not its' owner's normal cheery tones.
"When are you leaving?" Dawn asked, looking up from her seat on the floor, the small rug she'd carried down from her room protecting her from the cold of the marble tiles.
"Our ride'll be here in an hour or so," Vi said, gracefully lowering herself down next to her.
Dawn nodded, turning her head back to the Memorial wall.
"You spend a lot of time here," Vi said.
"They're lonely," she said, waving vaguely at the wall. "Someone needs to keep them company."
"They aren't lonely," Vi objected. "There are thousands of them."
"I know they're just memories," Dawn said. "But, no one is listening to them."
"We all hear them," Vi said. "It's a constant murmur in the back of our heads."
"But you don't listen to their stories," Dawn said. From Vi's puzzled look, she could tell she didn't really understand the difference. "Come on," she said, standing up, ignoring the slight stab of jealousy, and something else she couldn't define, as Vi joined her, flowing from the floor in a smooth, almost ethereal fashion that made her own movements seem forced and stilted. "Sit," she said, pointing at one of the stone benches along the outer glass wall.
"Let me tell you one of those stories," Dawn began, sitting on the floor in front of the bench, her back to the wall.
"You know how the first slayer, Sineya, was created?"
"Yes," Vi said.
"A group of shaman took a girl and merged her life force, her soul, with that of a demonic predator. When that succeeded, they sent her out into the world to fight the demons overrunning their land. When she died, the demonic life force searched for another host and endowed her with the same powers and abilities as the first."
"Sounds about right," Vi said, nodding. "But it falls apart when there's more than one slayer."
Dawn shook her head at the interruption but continued as if Vi hadn't spoken. "But, that isn't really the beginning of the story. Or even the end. There is more to the story than that.
There once were seven families. Although they belonged to different clans, they were united by a common cause. They were the most skilled hunters, the bravest, the most foolhardy of their different peoples. Over time, they'd become the demon hunters of their clans, willing to risk everything to protect their clan. How much time isn't really known."
"So, this is in one of those dusty old books you won't let anyone else read?"
"No, this was before writing, so there aren't any records," Dawn said. "Do you want to hear this or not?"
"Sorry," Vi said, dramatically covering her mouth with her hand.
"Because of them their clans prospered. But they never became large families. Demon hunting was a dangerous occupation."
"Still is," Vi muttered softly. Dawn ignored her, again. At least Vi was sitting still while she talked, unlike some slayers she knew who had to be constantly moving.
"No one knows how or where these families met, but they began to work together, clearing the evil from their lands. If one of the families couldn't handle a demon nest by themselves they would contact one of the others. And every year they would all get together to trade stories and information."
"We should do that," Vi said. "Have a yearly party."
"We do," Dawn said. "Every May."
"Not the same thing," Vi grumbled. "So what did they call their party?"
"What did they call it? That is lost in the mists of time," Dawn said with air quotes. "and they aren't saying, if they ever knew," she said with a wave at the wall. "But we do know it occurred on the longest day of the year. And they started to call themselves 'The Families'."
"Catchy title," Vi said, grinning.
"I'm sure you're wondering 'But what about magic?' and 'Why didn't the Families use magic to fight demons?'" Vi nodded. "Well, for much the same reasons we only use magic in extreme cases now. It was dangerous, unpredictable, and most demons had some resistance to it. The mortality rate of demon hunters who relied on magic was twice that of those who stuck to traditional methods, so it wasn't a very popular demon hunter weapon."
"No Willow class magic users?"
"Nope," Dawn said. "But magic users certainly existed. Each clan had its own shaman, someone who was a combination of priest, doctor, and advisor to the clan leaders. They and their apprentices could all do magic to some degree, mostly simple stuff. When they died, their apprentices would compete to take over. It was an unending circle."
Dawn shook her head and waited for Vi to stop humming the 'Lion King' song.
"Anyway, the clans had originally been very supportive of the Families. After all, it was in their best interest. But as the hunters became more successful and wandered further away from their clan lands to hunt, over the course of centuries, the clansmen began to forget how bad things had really been. They started to resent the demon hunters."
"No surprise there," Vi muttered, blushing at Dawn's raised eyebrow.
"It's possible the hunters became arrogant or it might even have been bad press," Dawn said, shrugging. "While their fellow clansmen were out hunting down harmless buffalo, antelope, and avoiding the occasional bear or large predator, and learning how to farm, they were out risking life and limb hunting creatures that could tear one of them in half if they so much as blinked while facing it.
So their fellow clansmen didn't impress the demon hunters. But no matter how justified they may have felt, this did not endear them to the clan leaders.
While this was happening, there was a shift in the clans away from the matriarchal power structure that had guided them for millennium to a patriarchal one that was more war-like."
"So, the demon hunters were Goddess worshipers?" Vi asked. "Like modern Wiccans?"
"They might have been, but there's no way to be sure," Dawn told her. "Each of the Families was led by a trio of women but I have no idea how they were selected or what their roles were."
"No written proof of that either?"
"Nope," Dawn said. "Just the memories of stories they were told."
"What about the clans?"
"The seven clans the Families belonged to had begun to form what we would call a city state or kingdom. It wasn't a large kingdom, as such things go. Each clan had its own large village and there was a town on a hill where they gathered for festivals and where the clan leaders met."
"Did they have a castle?" Vi asked eagerly. "I think we should have a castle."
"This was before castles," Dawn said. "You know Giles was never going to buy that castle."
"Still would have been cool," Vi muttered.
"It happened slowly, but the demon hunter families were becoming isolated from their clans by this point. They kept to the older traditions, living in their own small enclaves, and only mingled when they had to. To the rest of the clans they must have seemed rich with their leather armor, and weapons, and fancy houses. But they forgot that the Families wealth was bought with the blood of their sisters and brothers."
"So, the demon hunters? Men and women?"
"I didn't say? Sorry," Dawn said. "Yes, everyone in the Families were trained demon hunters. Not just the men. That was another issue between the clans and the Families. Clanswomen, in their new patriarchy, tended the crops, took care of the children, and did housework. Only men were allowed to be warriors. In the Families, only the women with small children, and the old and injured, stayed home."
"Yuck!" Vi said. "I like the Families way of doing things better."
"Well, they were small families," Dawn reminded her. "Everyone who could fight was needed to keep the demon population down and to protect their enclaves."
"The clan leaders became jealous of the Families," Dawn said. "Not really a surprise when you think about it. They had no control over them. So, one of them, a new clan leader, came up with a plan to get rid of the unwanted hunters. They would exile the Families, stripping them of their wealth, which they felt rightfully belonged to the clans.
Now, the Families had been warriors for longer than anyone could remember and this new clan leader wasn't stupid. He knew that the combined forces of the clans couldn't stand against even one of the Families if they confronted them directly. He needed a way to catch them by surprise. So he plotted and schemed with the other clan leaders. And the demon hunters remained oblivious in their enclaves, only mingling with the people of the clans when their hunts took them amongst them.
And then one day, the solution fell into this clan leader's lap. The same week his shaman accidentally drowned trying to unsuccessfully save an apprentice from a water demon, a wandering sorcerer appeared, doing magic tricks in the market. Knowing a good thing when he saw it, the clan leader convinced the sorcerer to become his shaman."
"Were sorcerers the same thing as shamans?" Vi asked, leaning forward.
"Not really. A sorcerer was usually a shaman's apprentice who was seduced by the dark side of magic and went off on their own. So they might know some of the same things but sorcerers were selfish, caring only for their own comforts."
"So, not community minded," Vi said.
"Nope," Dawn said, agreeing. "Now, the other clan leaders weren't going to let him get away with that, so they found sorcerers of their own, of varying ability, to replace their shaman, most of whom then hired the apprentices of the former shaman they'd replaced to be the clan priests and healers, occupations most of these sorcerers found distasteful or disgusting.
The clan leaders and their sorcerer shaman then schemed together to get rid of the Families. The sorcerers because they believed they could do a better job of protecting their adopted clans from the demons, and the clan leaders because they still saw the families as a continuing threat, even though they now had powerful sorcerers at their beck and call."
"I thought the sorcerers were selfish? Why would they care about the clans?"
"Being a clan leader's sorcerer was a lot more comfortable than wandering around the countryside doing magic tricks," Dawn told her.
"Got it," Vi said.
"It was a simple plan. They waited until the Families were gathered together for their yearly celebration. The clan warriors encircled the gathering so no one could escape and the sorcerers cursed them. It wasn't an overly complex curse but it was effective. All of the demon hunters at the celebration - men, women, and children - collapsed. It was an impressive sight. One minute they were dancing, talking, and singing and the next they were all unconscious."
"That doesn't sound good," Vi said.
"It wasn't," Dawn said. "But it got worse. Things didn't quite work out as the sorcerers had planned. Something went wrong with the curse. It wasn't quite as harmless as the sorcerers had claimed it would be. None of the adults regained consciousness. Over the next few weeks they starved as they slept and, one by one, they died."
"Yikes! Bad karma." Vi said. "What did the clans do while this was happening?"
"They rushed off to plunder the Families enclaves. But not all of the hunters had been at the celebration. The injured, and those too young or too old had stayed home. Though there weren't many, there were just enough to keep the clans from stepping in and taking everything that belonged to the Families."
"What about the children? Did they wake up?"
"Yes, the next day."
"That must have been scary watching their families die like that," Vi said. "Did the clans help them out? Or did they just leave them all there?"
"The clan sorcerers were the ones who killed them," Dawn reminded her. "But no one thought they would die. While some of the clan warriors rushed off, the rest moved the unconscious hunters into a couple large huts. The plan was to exile them as soon as they woke up."
"But they didn't."
"So, the adult demon hunters at the Families meeting all died, and the ones who stayed home were under siege. What happened to the children?"
"They became hostages," Dawn said. "The clan leaders tried to use them to ensure the co-operation of the surviving hunters. Most of them were returned when the Families were starved out of their enclaves and exiled from the clans.
Out of a thousand proud demon hunters, less than a hundred survived to go into exile when it was all over. One of the families appeared to be wiped out completely."
"How did we get from exiled demon hunters to a single slayer?" Vi asked.
"Do you have time to hear the rest?" Dawn asked. Vi looked down at her watch before nodding.
"It was almost a year before the Clan leaders realized they might have made a mistake."
"No guilt? Just an 'Oops' ?" Vi asked.
"No guilt," Dawn said. "Don't forget it was a different culture. This was before Moses and his ten commandments. Life was cheap. That sounds like a cliche but it was true. Back then exile would probably have meant death anyway."
"With the hunters gone, the demons began to move back into the clan territories, making a nuisance of themselves. And with them came something new. Something that actively hunted humans. A thing that took on the appearance of those it killed after draining their blood."
"Yup," Dawn said. "Of course, they weren't that numerous back then. Their ideal hunting grounds were large towns and cities but there weren't very many of those back then. A single vampire could move into a village and start killing but people noticed very quickly because they weren't subtle about it. The clansmen didn't know what to do about them."
"Beheading or a stake through the heart," Vi told her with a smirk.
"They didn't know that," Dawn said. "The Families had experience with all sorts of demons but the clansmen? Not so much. As their people huddled in their mud huts at night, the sorcerers searched for a solution. They needed a replacement for the demon hunters they'd exiled. But one that they could control. So they set to work. It took them years and some of the darkest magic any of them had ever done but they finally had a solution."
"The Chosen One!" Vi said, jumping up and doing a quirky little dance.
"Not exactly," Dawn said.
"No?" Vi sat back down on the bench, facing Dawn, a confused look on her face.
"They wanted a demon killer, a tool. Not some heroic replacement for the Families."
"How'd they end up with Sineya then?"
"Have you ever seen her?"
"We all dream of her," Vi said. "She's like the ultimate stoic tribal warrior. leather, scary face paint, weapons."
"No offense, but she wasn't a hero the way we think of it," Dawn said. "Tragic, maybe. But she was more predator than warrior maiden. A Leela, not an Amazon.
"Leela was okay. She kept the Doctor out of trouble," Vi said. "Did she start out that way?"
"Sineya? It was in her blood. She came from a long line of demon hunters."
"Didn't you say the clans gave all the children back?"
"No, not all of them. After the massacre, a few weren't sent with the Families into exile. They became slaves. On a whim the leader of the sorcerers had claimed her for himself. He wasn't any crueler than any other slave master at that time but she didn't have an easy life.
Once the sorcerers had their plan, they needed a vessel for the demon spirit. Someone they could control. She had the bad luck to pass by their meeting room at the wrong time. They probably forgot that she was once a member of the Families."
"So it was just bad luck that made her the first slayer?"
"Mostly," Dawn said, pausing a moment to stretch. "The Families patron goddess might have had something to do with it.
She wasn't an all powerful deity like Athena. She was more like a guardian angel with an attitude. And she was angry at what the clans had done to her chosen people but since most of them were dead, except for a couple girls and women scattered among the clans, and the few in exile, her options for revenge were limited. So she interfered with their demon hunter creation spell, inserting a little bit of herself into the mix."
"What happened with the sorcerers?"
"They didn't notice the changes," Dawn said. "They did the spell to merge the demon essence with Sineya and sent her out to kill any demons she found. Every morning she returned, though that was part of the spell, not because she wanted to. The spell also forced her to be obedient to the clans, and stopped her from killing humans, that sort of thing."
"So, she was still a slave," Vi said angrily. "They sent her out to hunt things that could kill her. And probably didn't care if she came back or not."
"Well, some of that was because they thought it was the only way to control her. They believed she was possessed by the demon spirit," Dawn said. "But yes, she was still a slave.
There were some side effects to the spell, but the sorcerers didn't really care, if they even noticed. They just thought it was all part of the demonic possession."
"She couldn't talk any more," Dawn said. "That was the big one caused by the spell. And she was constantly hungry. And her bones ached. The human body wasn't designed for the changes she went through. The only reason she survived them and kept her sanity was because of the Families guardian goddess."
"So, she went out every night until she ran into something bigger and stronger than her and it killed her?"
"They were all bigger than her," Dawn said softly, staring over Vi's head. "Most people back then were short anyway and most women even shorter. And she'd been a slave so she didn't get the best food. So, tiny like Buffy. And no, that wasn't how she died."
"What happened to her?"
"A cave-in. She was buried alive."
"And the slayer-demon spirit moved onto someone else?"
"Yes and no. The sorcerers noticed she was missing the next day and prepared to do the spell again. Sineya had worked out so well, they picked another survivor of the Families. But it didn't work."
"When the goddess interfered, she tied the demon life force they used to the bloodlines of the Families. They'd been lucky to capture that demon the first time and extract its essence. They couldn't do it again with another demon."
"But wouldn't it have worked anyway?"
"No, because the goddess now controlled the calling. When Sineya died, the goddess caused the slayer force to move to someone else of her choosing."
"So, suddenly some poor unsuspecting girl becomes the slayer? Did she lose her voice also?"
"No. The Goddess had seen what happened to Sineya and had made a few subtle changes to the remaining members of the Families. Only they could survive becoming hosts to the slayer demon life force. But only some of them would ever become one of her chosen."
"So we're all related?" Vi asked, staring at her, an expression of disbelief on her face.
"In a way. You can all trace your ancestry back to one of those seven families," Dawn said. "But the connection is very distant for most of you."
"Is this goddess still out there?" Vi asked excitedly. "What'd she think when Willow did her spell to make us all slayers?"
"After the goddess made sure the slayer line was more or less permanent, she seems to have disappeared," Dawn said. "So we can't really ask her."
"Where do you think she went?"
"Sineya seems to have survived as a non-corporeal for many millennia," Dawn said. "I suspect there is some connection between that and the disappearance
of the goddess."
"Where'd the Council come from?" Vi asked. "Are they the decedents of the Families?"
Before Dawn could answer, Vi's phone started singing. "Ugh, gotta go," Vi said. "You can finish your story when I get back." Standing up, she headed towards the door at the other end of the room.
"Okay," Dawn said, turning back to face the wall after Vi left the room.--- --- ---
"Still trying to sell that slayer creation story?" Willow said, sitting down next to Dawn.
"I like it better than yours," Dawn huffed.
"What? That the shamans screwed up and that Sineya was the head shaman's daughter? And they never expected the demon slayer power to move to another girl in his family?"
"You know what Buffy would say if she found out you were trying to start a Sineya cult," Willow said with a laugh.
"I'm not trying to start a cult," Dawn protested. "But you know I'm right about that part of it. All of the slayers are related."
"Distantly," Willow said. "Very distantly."
"So why not the rest of it?" Dawn asked. She knew Willow didn't really believe that she could understand the voices from the wall. "Why not several different families dedicated to guiding the slayer until the Watchers interfered? Look at the different types of slayers. They seem to gather in related groups."
"No, I don't think so," Dawn muttered. "We have the bubbly, outgoing types like Vi and Buffy. Well, Buffy when she first became a slayer. Ever noticed how those types of slayers end up on one of Buffy's teams?"
"And then we have the ones who end up with Faith. The take no prisoners, uber sexual butch types. I bet they can all be traced back to the same ancestor family. And then there are the intellectual slayers. Each of these has a matriarch-like pseudo-leader," Dawn concluded. "You know I'm right."
"You have a wonderful imagination," Willow told her. "But that's only three. How does that fix into your seven slayer bloodlines theory?"
"I'm still working on it," Dawn admitted. "I think the sorcerers merged with one of the seven bloodlines, but there are still some pieces missing."
"Let me know when you figure it out," Willow murmured. Giving Dawn a hug, she stood up and walked over to the wall. She stood in front of it for minute before shaking her head and leaving Dawn in sole possession of it again.
I do have a good idea of how this seven demon hunter family idea turns into the pre-Buffy Council. That will be gradually revealed/explored as the other stories in this series progress.