Title: The Slayer Called Destruction
Disclaimer: I don’t own the original concept or any recognisable characters. I’m just playing in a pretty big sandbox.
Notes: In response to Sam’s challenge on the BBBFic list – 2000 words or less, a pre-Buffy Slayer, a large wild animal, a demon/vamp/big bad from the show.
Notes #2: This story grew out of some research I was doing for a character in the End Of Days RPG on livejournal (http://www.livejournal.com/community/_end_of_days/) who herself grew out of an in-joke I made for another character. The joke was that Xander had spent nearly a year living with the Shona (as in the Zimbabwean tribe). This story features a Slayer who shares the name of my EOD character, but it’s not her. All should be clear by the end (I hope!)
The name I gave her is the Shona word for Destruction, when I was looking for Zimbabwean names I came across a book called “The Girl Called Destruction” whose main character shared this name. Okay, enough notes – on with the story!
Night had come suddenly and Nhamo had welcomed its chill. She was drawing close. She’d been hunting this creature for days now, across the trackless wastes of the Kalahari. Peter hadn’t wanted her to go – he’d told her in that quaint English way of his that this was beneath her.
She knew better. This was part of the bargain. It was her payment to the varoyi who’d gifted her with strength – this would keep her strong. Keep her alive.
Nhamo was a Nagoya. A witch. Someone both revered and reviled amongst her tribes folk, it had been that way for generations past and the sudden arrival of the white man calling her ‘Slayer’ didn’t change that.
She knew what she was, the varoyi, the spirits, had told her when she was little more than a babe.
“You will be the destroyer.” They’d whispered it to her in dreams and she’d known it to be true.
As a child, she had meant to keep the secret, but from her mother she could hide nothing. At barely seven summers she had been taken to the Elders and given the name she wore with pride. Nhamo. Destruction.
Since that day, she’d been charged with keeping the evil varoyi at bay. The vision trances she could enter at will helped the tribe fend off the invaders from the spirit world. And then, at fifteen summers, she’d felt something explode within her and suddenly the varoyi had been more than pesky spirits. They’d been unearthly monsters that seemed drawn to her somehow.
And she’d known instinctively what to do. She’d fought them with a strength that at the time had both surprised her and felt natural – as if it was her birthright.
Two weeks after the internal awakening, Peter had arrived with his tall tales of destiny and duty. She’d scoffed at him, her new status as guardian of her tribe giving her previously unknown courage in the face of the white man.
He hadn’t been put off by her derision, he’d refused to leave when she asked and instead told her tales of how she was the latest in a long line of what he called ‘Slayers’. She had grown to tolerate him after a while, then to accept his presence and even eventually to enjoy having him around.
Not once did he join her in her nightly fight against the varoyi-made-flesh. Instead he would offer suggestions and guidance from the safety of the village, and she found she was grateful for that.
A season after he arrived in the village, just as winter was drawing in, she took him to her bed for the first time. The following year in the heat of the summer her daughter was born. She had never thought of Farai as ‘their’ daughter – although there was no doubt Peter was the girl’s father – she was always hers.
Nhamo frowned as she realised the tracks she had been following had veered off towards a rocky outcrop. She found herself swallowing against the bittersweet taste she had come to recognise as a warning sign that varoyi-made-flesh were near.
She scanned the rocks ahead and instantly saw the darkened area marking the entrance to a cavern. The creature was in there, she was sure of it. And after tracking it this far she had no choice but to follow. Even if every instinct she possessed was telling her to run. To get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible.
The smile on Farai’s face floated across her mind. If she took the direct route, she could be home to see that smile in person within two days. She was tempted, the maternal call was strong, but she knew that if she did that, if she walked away from her destiny, it would be the first of many such times. Soon there would be nothing to smile about.
Peter had been wrong; this single varoyi was not beneath her. This was her sole purpose.
Facing and defeating this varoyi, this ‘demon’ as he insisted on calling it, was who she was. She’d known it long ago when the spirits had whispered their prophecies and promises to her.
She tightened her grip on the short spear she carried, it was her only weapon – the only one she had ever needed, and entered the cave.
The darkness outside was giving way to light; dawn was coming. Always this varoyi retreated during the bright hours, travelling only at night it had still managed to somehow cover vast distances and stay ahead of her. Nhamo suspected this might be one of the varoyi Peter named a ‘vampire’. She’d yet to encounter one of this sun-hating breed, although he assured her they were common elsewhere in the world. Maybe this would be her first meeting with a ‘vampire’.
As she crept further into the depths of the blackness, she saw something ahead of her on the ground. It was so pale it glowed. Could this be the creature? Had she found it so quickly?
Moving forward silently, she saw that it was nothing more than a child’s plaything. A toy dressed in the finery she recognised from the old photographs Peter had carried with him. It had no place here. The varoyi must have left it. Nhamo bent to look closely, there was something captivating about it, and she couldn’t take her eyes from it.
She puzzled over the manner in which it was dressed, the cloth seemed too old, too arcane even to her inexperienced eyes. There was a band of lace tied loosely around the head of the toy and as she reached forward to lift it she heard a low rumble from behind her.
She’d been so hypnotised by the thing on the cavern floor that she’d forgotten the danger she was in. As she spun to face the noise, her eyes took in the pile of chewed bones in one corner, the grasses gathered in a pile, the debris littering the ground. All this she saw in the instant before recognition hit her. She was in the lion’s den.
The rumble she’d heard before became a snarl and suddenly the lioness was on her. The weight of the animal sent her crashing to the ground and knocked the spear from her hand. A mighty paw connected with her head and she had just enough time to recognise the trap the varoyi – no, Peter had been right, the vampire – had laid.
As the lion continued to swipe at her with her claws, Nhamo realised she could no more fight it off than she could convince water to flow uphill. She was dead, it was just a matter of her body recognising that. She could feel every tear, every bite as the animal continued its frenzied assault. As her vision began to fade she saw a pale hand reach down and pick up the plaything that had so distracted her. A strange voice spoke, not to Nhamo but to the doll.
“You see Miss Edith? I told you we’d find a toy for the kitty cat.”
As Nhamo’s life drained away, she used the last of her strength to make a plea to the good spirits who protected her. It was a simple plea for vengeance.
Through the varoyi, she swore that she would see this ‘vampire’ destroyed. The next to bear her name would hunt the creature down and she would be there to see it happen. It wouldn’t be in this life, nor her daughter’s, but the spirits promised her that her daughter’s daughter would be the one. Her granddaughter, whom she would never know, would take the name Destruction.