Part 6 : Ain’t No Party Like a Research Party
"You wanna be a member of the Scooby Gang, you gotta be willing to be inconvenienced now and then." -Xander Harris
"Which can be bloody annoying as we both know" -Methos
"Thank you master of the blood obvious!"" -Duncan MacLeod
They had gathered together in the Magic Box that day, the crowd in the shop was quite large. Inside were two watchers, four immortals and, one vampire, one slayer, the Scooby Gang and a New York City Cop. Giles had insisted on having a day of research, he noted a look that passed between Shea and Methos, it was the exact one that he found on Xander’s features. At least this new group was familiar with researching and knew what they were in for.
They had done this for what seemed like weeks and it had only been a few days at the most when the first of what would come as a weekly delivery. It was always late afternoon early evening when the same human delivery man would walk into the Magic Box and leave a box. They were addressed to Shealti at first as the week before the Eve of Dahgi approached. Eyes still on the books in front of them the Scooby Gang began to take an interest in what the box held and who they were for. Shea just stared at her box, then pulled the twine on the box and the paper and twine fell to the table as she examined the pristine white box that was about six inch cube.
"What is it?" Methos glanced up at Shealti. "New paperweight?"
"No, its too light" Shealti opened the box to find an ancient choker in the box. "Someone think that I have a interest in ancient jewelry?" she cast a look at Iolaus.
"Hey, " he held up his hands. "I know you like to reminisce about the past but not to have a constant reminder."
"Someone thinks I need one." she eyed Methos who looked up from his codex.
"Not even Old Witch, I’m not one to-" he eyed the choker she held up. "Isn’t that Scythian?"
"Yeah," Shealti nodded. "In fact it’s a copy I wore for about a thousand years." she eyed him.
"Why would I send you that?" he nodded to it.
"Oh, look." Buffy picked up the note that fell to the floor. "it’s a note from a girl, note the girly handwriting." Buffy eyed Shealti with a sneer. "Here’s a gift that you should remember well, with it is attached a warning sister. Let me do what is necessary and all will be well." Buffy looked the note over for a signature. "No one signed it." she shrugged handing the note to Shealti. "Weird."
"You never had a sister." Iolaus furrowed his brow.
"Not of blood, " Shealti eyed the choker. "plenty of bonds though."
"Bondage?" Xander looked up. "What?" when he noticed the strange stares.
"Bonds," Shealti rolled her eyes. "like the bonds of brotherhood, bonds formed in battle."
"Think that it might be an Immortal Amazon?" Iolaus proposed the idea.
"Could be," Shealti eyed the choker. "I’m going out to patrol."
"Sounds like a good idea." Sarah rose to her feet.
"I’ll go with you." Buffy grabbed her coat. "Too much research will rot your brain." she noted the annoyed glance from Giles as she passed him and patted him on the shoulder.
The research went on and then the Scooby Gang began to ask questions most of them about Shealti’s background which had been left out of the earlier discussions. Iolaus and Methos were left to answer the questions. Willow was the first bold enough to ask about the ancient woman.
"Is there anyone still alive that would want to kill Shealti?" the red head asked.
"Long list," Methos eyed Iolaus with a smile. "A better question to ask is who’s dead that doesn’t want her alive."
"She’s not one for making friends of her enemies," Iolaus added with a smirk. "She tends to keep her allies close like a family." he sighed. "There are plenty of Immortals and vampires that would like to see her cease to exist."
"Any constant enemies?" Giles asked.
"A few," Methos noted Richie’s grin. "There are only two that she doesn’t know the where-abouts of." he saw the smile fade from Iolaus and Owsyn’s faces. "I know about her very dark beginnings, things that even her first watcher knows nothing about." he sighed heavily. "Shea’s never been a normal Immortal like the rest of us. She’s how shall I say, avoided the sun for extended periods of time, I’ve never seen her eat much of anything, she drinks like a fish, wine, soda, beer, coffee, water anything with in a reasonable radius of her. I’ve know the Old Woman for a long time, I asked her about it a long time ago, when we were in Egypt, I think. All the quirky habits, the thirst that doesn’t quit. She told me about the night she was killed.
"Scythians were similar to the Acadians, were skilled in war, extremely intelligent people, guarded in their knowledge and culture. They lack a written language, Shea just chalques it up to their need to keep their ways theirs. They influenced the Acadians, early tribes of the Greeks, they had a cast of warrior women like the Amazons, hence Shealti’s independent attitude. Shea and three of her Amazon sisters are sent out to watch the road to the village. She said it was about dawn when she saw him run by so quickly that she thought he was imagined.
"The closest thing that she’s said that she’d ever seen come close to the man she saw that night was Stewart Townsend in Queen of the Damned. She said that she had drifted off for no more than a few moments when she suddenly awakened. Looking over she thought that the other girls with her were sleeping like she had been. She nudged one and saw the wounds on the neck. Taking a good look at the other girl she saw the same. She glanced up to find him there, his mouth still bloody.
"Shea’s far from stupid, she knows when she’s out numbered and out gunned. She began to run for help, thinking that she’d at least have a fighting chance. The vampire tackled her down and fed off her, then fed her. She said that she died, despite the vampire’s attempts to feed her blood. Typically with Immortals and vampires the only scars that they have are the ones that they receive before they die. Shea’s said that when she awoke the vampire was gone it was mid morning and that the villagers had found her and the two other girls, brought them back. She also said that they must have thought that she had been on her way to get them. They were unsure why the thing that had killed the two other girls hadn’t finished her off.
"Shea said that every scar that she had ever had up to that day was gone, she was always told that she had cold hands, need to get some sun, eat because she was so thin, people were concerned that she was sick because she was pale. Shea was taught Immortal ways by the woman that killed her in ritual combat, and that she hadn’t really thought much about her teacher’s trips late at night, but she said that her teacher had a vampire for a lover and that they pictured Shea as their child."
"Her teacher set her up." Giles green eyes widened. "in hopes that the child would make her just like her."
"That’s what Shealti did," Methos nodded. "She tried, but it never took hold. Her teacher made her out to be selfish and that she wasn’t doing it right. Shea said that she did everything like her "father" had done to her." Methos shook his head. "Problem was the vampire that made Shea a vampire fed her as she died, Shea’s teacher was fed as she began to crossover into death.
"She killed both of them, or at least she thought she had, but apparently Shea’s teacher asked her to try once more, Shealti took her teacher’s blood and left her to die. Her sire evidently came to see about his lover and found her dieing and fed her. Shealti took off for the other side of the world, China and Thailand."
"What happened to her teachers?" Oz asked.
"Shea figure that they would come after her, but they never have. She assumed that they found something else to occupy their time or that someone managed to kill them."
"Sounds like an ancient version of Interview With a Vampire." Spike snorted.
"I’m curious about what the Eve of Dahgi is and what does it celebrate?" Giles posed the question.
"It’s a holiday of Bacchus." Iolaus spoke up. "It’s older than him though."
"How do you know?" Methos asked with a grin.
"I spend some time as a bacchi, not willingly." Iolaus rolled his eyes.
"Bacchi?" Giles eyed the Greek Immortal. "A servant of Bacchus, usually vestal virgins."
"Not last time I lived through it." Iolaus looked over at Giles. "Their a dead race of vampires, bacchi were human, once, their seduced into change. Their like an Ancient Greek zombie-like version of the vampire’s you all are used to dealing with." he eyed Spike. "Immortality saved me from that fate."
"So," Buffy casually began. "how did you become, the Justicarus? Is it like a sacred duty thing, or is it assigned to you like homework?"
"Its more like you kill the previous Justicarus and your cursed with the job." Shea rolled her eyes with a thin lipped smile.
"You killed her by accident, right?" Buffy eyed the ancient woman next to her.
"No," Shealti sighed. "I knew what he was, he was looking for me, see if I would lead him to the vampire that sired me." she paused looking ahead. "I haven’t been the girl scout you see before you now." She smirked. "I’ve danced with the devil under the pale moon light before."
"What?" Buffy furrowed her brow.
"The dark side," Sarah smirked. "she embraced the dark side of life."
"Oh, so the Justicar was after you because you were the big bad?" Buffy looked over at the Immortal. "What did you do to get the Justicar to come after you?"
"A very long list of things." Shea sped up a few steps.
"I think that went well." Buffy nodded. "Not all together intrusive."
"Its not something that she wants to talk about." Sarah watched the ancient woman. "Can you imagine what she’s been through, seen, experienced. She can remember when the pyramids were in their finery, when Greece was in its Golden Age, Rome was in power-" Sarah trailed off. "I’m sure she’s has a reason why she keeps things to herself."
"Yeah," Buffy’s mind went to Angel. "There’s always a good reason." she watched as Shea stopped for a moment. "Whatever it is that she had done she’s making up for it."
A she-demon came running at Shea from between two mausoleums. The female demon was tall, liver-spotted blue skin, long pointy ears that looked like they belonged to a bat. There a top her head were five, small horns on her head, not much longer than a thumb. A patch of dark hair separated on either side by a patch of blue skin, the rest locked together in dreadlocks. Her nose was like she had permanently scrunched up her face.
Shea had already launched herself at the demon and took it on hand to hand until Buffy gave the she-demon a round house to the solar plexus. The sound of metal on metal grating, Sarah and Shea had both their blades out. The three women took their time fighting with the she-demon.
They watched them from a top a mausoleum, she knew the older of the three. A sister from a life long ago, a daughter from days gone by. She was proud that her daughter was still putting her lessons to good use. Her lingering thoughts on the past only a few seconds before she was urging the one remaining Sisterhood of Jhe on. They had come to gather supplies for the Eve of Dahgi, just a mere week away and there would be no mortals left on earth. Immortals and Demons would be the only ones left. Then we would see how well her daughter would hide amongst them.
"Kealti," a deep silky voice spoke up. "They can not kill the last remaining Sister of Jhe, if they do we will not be able to open the door between the worlds."
"I know." Kealti bent her head, long platinum blonde hair falling in her face. "Just seeing what we’re up against."
The she-demon made a break for it as the three women were rising, she snatched the bag that she dropped and took off running. The Witchblade collapsed upon itself and Shea quickly sheathed her sword. The buzz tickling the back of her brain she began to search the area for the Immortal causing it. Sarah and Buffy were watching her.
"What’s wrong?" Buffy asked.
"Immortal." She was curt with her answer as she saw the two retreating figures. The taller and possibly male one was hidden beneath a black cloak, the other was a female and had long platinum blonde hair. "It couldn’t be." she whispered.
"Oh look, demon girl left something behind," Buffy stooped to pick up the small ruddy brown leather pouch. "Talisman," she held the pendant by its cord. "Giles will know what it is."
"Shea!" Iolaus ran over to them. "What was that?"
"Sister of Jhe," Shea put a hand to her forehead and then ran it though her hair. "Which only confirms the big lingering suspicion."
"Eve of Dahgi equals the end of the world?" Buffy arched her brow. "Are there any good Demon holidays?"
"Ah" Xander smiled as he strolled up with Willow. "Good demon holidays. Yeah, I think Halloween classifies as a good demon holiday. Kind of like the Flag day of the demon world. Oh look," Xander spotted the talisman that Buffy had. "Something that means more research, thanks Buffy, we just convinced Giles to let us have a break."
"Sorry demon girl dropped it as she fled the scene." Buffy held the bronze talisman up for all to see.
"Whatever it is, I’m guessing that they’ll want it back." Sarah looked around. "Come on, let’s get back, the sooner we know about this thing the better."