The trip back to Stonebarrow turns out to be extremely difficult. Not only do they have a wounded rat in tow, but they also have an elderly human that they have 'arrested' for his crimes against the people of Stonebarrow. The sun has long since set by the time they finally arrive. Then it takes an hour for Amelia to drop off their prisoner with the militia and explain just who he is and why he was captured.
Leni and Djivan have been left above, only those directly involved in this procedure have been allowed down into the ritual chamber. Most notably Olivia, Amelia, Isolde, Natasha and Liliana are present. The Eeee looks very tired again, as if her temporary binding with the spirit of a young bat is starting to fail.
"We first need to send the spirit that has been helping Liliana back with Buffy," Natasha says as she walks towards the center of the room. "Olivia, please summon her."
Olivia once again carries the crystal that holds Liliana's demon spirit captive. She holds it carefully against her chest, almost protectively. "So, um, how does the re-bonding ritual work?" she asks nervously.
"Do you want the honest answer?" Natasha asks, "Or one to make you worry less?"
"I'm already worried," the Skeek answers truthfully in return. "So I'll take the honest answer."
Natasha looks back. "I'm not sure yet," the Khatta says. "Most of my experience is in removing spirits, not returning them."
"It didn't seem too traumatic when Buffy put in that little girl spirit," Amelia notes.
"That spirit wasn't of demonic origin," Natasha points out, "So there might be complications."
Olivia's brow furrows a little more but she merely nods to Natasha. Then she gives Amelia the crystal to hold for a minute so she can get out a piece of the chalk Buffy gave her. Then she draws a door on one wall of the ritual chamber.
Amy holds the crystal up to her ear to see if she can hear anything. She doesn't … but she could swear that the crystal somehow just managed to lick her ear. Best not to think too much about it.
The rock wall within the chalked doorway seems to fade out as the scene of a vineyard fades in. It's nighttime in Buffy's little spirit world as well, but there the Procession can be seen in its full glory. It takes a few moments before the black Lapi appears, wearing the nightgown that she no doubt intended for her honeymoon. "I just got them all to sleep," she whispers through the door. "So try to be quiet? Did you get Lili's spirit?"
Olivia gestures to the crystal that Amelia now holds. "There it is," she whispers back. "So we need to free the spirit who's inside Liliana now."
"Hmmm, I can get her out easily enough, I think," Buffy notes, rubbing her chin. "As for getting Lili's own spirit back in though… well, I could try. I mean, if you can let it out of the crystal."
Olivia looks to Natasha now. "What do you think?" she asks.
"Releasing it from the crystal is a trivial matter. The binding is crude," Natasha comments as she heads towards Amelia. "Getting it to rebind with its former host is the unknown."
Liliana, for her part, is just leaning against one of the walls with her arms, then wings wrapped about herself. She looks half-asleep or at the very least, dazed.
Amelia asks, "Shouldn't it want to get back into Lili? I mean… where else could it go?"
"Any one of us," Natasha answers quite bluntly. "It is most compatible with Liliana, so yes, I hope it will want to just go there."
"It did go back after some of it was put into Miranda before," Amy notes, and offers the crystal to Natasha. "Maybe Lili just needs to hold it or something?"
Olivia thinks about this for a little while. "Then is there a way to keep Lili and her true spirit separated from the rest of us magically? So it has to go back to her?"
"We would have to sedate the demonic part," Isolde offers.
"It wasn't ripped out that time, though. The situation is different now," Natasha points out as she takes the crystal from Amelia. "Liliana, close to the middle of the room please," she tells the bat. "Buffy, please recover the little girl while I prepare something."
Buffy goes up and hugs Liliana, but her ghostly arms pass right through the Eeee. When the Lapi draws back, however, she's cradling the sleeping spirit of Claire, the Eeee orphan. "She's all tired out, but should be fine once she wakes up back in the playground."
Liliana's legs wobble and the Eeee collapses to the floor. "Ow," the bat complains as her tired eyes blink a few times. "Shoulda sat down 'for you did dat."
For whatever reason, Isolde frowns at this. "It must take a demonic spirit to keep up with Liliana, after all," she comments.
"I'll be on the other side of the door if you need me," Buffy notes, and carries Claire back across the chalk threshold to the Stonebarrow of yesteryear.
Olivia hurries over to Liliana now and kneels down beside her. "How are you holding up?" she asks quietly, trying to help her into a sitting position.
"Hey… just curious, Lili, but… " Amy starts to say, then looks at Olivia. "Well, that is… do you still want to snog Olivia? I mean, is that really your desire or the spirit's, after all?"
Natasha for the moment is quiet. She's now busily drawing a circle around Liliana. It's slow going, as the Khatta is placing intricate runes along it as she works.
"Amelia, we really need to have a talk about your sudden interest in perverse notions," Isolde remarks.
"Feel like I just got out of an orgy of toad monsters or sumthin'," comes Liliana's answer to Olivia's question. She does offer the Skeek a smile, though, adding, "But eh, I just mainly feel tired. Been a long few days." Her eyes flick to the side to look at Amelia for a moment, then she adds as a comment to Olivia, "Mebbe I feel better iffin ya gimme a kiss of encouragement?" The bat even puckers up, though it is a bit exaggerated.
"I have a good reason to ask, honest," Amelia notes. "In case the demon is reluctant, see, Lili can kiss Olivia and then it will go back into Lili because it doesn't want to miss out, right? Or else it will try to possess Olivia. She's the only other person here who can be possessed, really."
Olivia rolls her eyes heavenward and shakes her head at the Eeee, but she does kiss her… chastely on the forehead. "Some things never change, no matter what the situation, I see," she remarks dryly.
"Do not be so certain that Miss Weaver is susceptible to demonic possession," Isolde notes.
"Yer no fun," Liliana playfully complains.
"So I've been told before," Olivia replies. Then she looks at the Khatta. "When should I leave this circle you're drawing?"
"Isolde has a point; Olivia's supposed ties to the trolls may have an adverse affect on her being easily possessed. She allowed my familiar, but I have no idea if she resisted could she be taken over," Natasha comments as she works. "As for when, soon. I'm almost done. If you would like to stay in there and try to help, though, you are welcome to."
Olivia turns back to Liliana. "You decide. Want me to stay? Or not?"
"Coul' be dangerous, but I wouldn't mind the company," Liliana admits.
"After she's whole, she'll probably want a bite to drink," Amy points out to Olivia. "Just remember that you're the juiciest of us all."
Olivia sits down on the ground next to the Eeee. "Then I'll stay, as long as you don't try to snog me. Deal?" As for Amelia's biting comment, the Skeek doesn't seem to be terribly disturbed by it… which is disturbing in itself.
"Can't promise da no snoggin' part," Liliana claims as she leans over, and on, Olivia.
Buffy returns and just quietly observes from her side of the spirit-door. "Juicy," she says, with a bit of a smirk. "Hehe, I like that."
Now finished with her circle, Natasha walks in and sets the crystal down in front of the two. As she exits, she says, "Last chance to leave the circle, Olivia."
"I'm definitely too chewy," Amy notes, "and Isolde and Natasha are positively crunchy." WHACK For a crunchy woman, Isolde still has a fast slapping hand.
Olivia merely sighs and hugs her friend, trying to get comfortable on the hard ground. To Buffy, she says, "Ha ha ha. Funny. No Skeek juice for you!"
"You have an impudent student," Natasha comments to Isolde. The Khatta then turns around and faces the circle and its two occupants. "Are you ready?" she asks.
Then Olivia looks up at Natasha and smiles. "Sorry, can't move. Got a bat pinning me down. Guess you'll have to continue the ritual with me in it. So yeah, ready as I can be!"
"She's your student too," Isolde points out. "I suggest getting a good stick."
"I will just have Bravil spank her," Natasha comments dryly.
"Ouch," Olivia says under her breath. She winces, too.
Now Natasha nods to Olivia. She extends her hands and begins chanting softly. The roll and twist of her wrists and fingers is precise and graceful, as if the Khatta is plucking at delicate, unseen, threads. As with much of Olivia's experience with magic … it involves a lot of boredom before anything remotely interesting begins to happen. Fifteen minutes in, the circle shimmers and pulsates. The air above it all the way to the ceiling seems to ripple, at a guess, a containment barrier.
"Looks like you're stuck with me for a while now," Olivia teases the Eeee.
"Oo, the possibilities," Liliana threatens back with a weak smile. "No escape now."
"Only you're too weak to try any of them," Olivia points out. "So I'm pretty safe. I think."
Natasha snaps her fingers … which frankly is far louder than it should be. She nods and begins the second part of the task at hand. As before, there is more muttering and rolling of her fingers. This time, though, it's the crystal inside the circle that begins o glow brighter and brighter. After about five minutes, it actually begins to float off the floor.
Amy chitters a bit and steps back until she comes up to the wall. Any magic that affects demons seems to make her nervous still.
Natasha's fingers spread wide, then slowly begin to curl back in into a fist. As her hand closes, the crystal itself begins to make some rather disturbing cracking sounds. Even though it glows brightly, a spiderweb of cracks beginning to form all along its surface.
Olivia keeps her eyes on the crystal and actually hugs Liliana more tightly, as if protecting her now.
Just in case the ward isn't enough, Isolde removes a long hairpin from her tightly-wound bun and holds it ready.
As Natasha's hand closes into a fist, the crystal explodes in a dazzling burst of red sparkles. The motes of light bounce off the barrier, swirling and twisting around in the confines of the circle. The sparkles twist and spin as they come together in front of the Skeek and the Eeee. It takes on an almost-Eeee shape, though its features lack any intricate detail; more as if it were a painting of an Eeee made in smoke. It rolls is 'head' and two bright pinpoints of red light flare up where its eyes should be. It looks directly at Olivia and smiles. It's the sort of smile that gives the feeling of 'Oh how nice, what a yummy morsel… '
"Be a nice demon," Buffy advises from her doorway. "Remember what being nice gets you."
Olivia shivers but stares back into the red eyes of the spirit. "Just remember, it's not me you belong with," she tells it, shaking her head for emphasis. "It's Liliana."
"Yeah, leave 'er alone. She already belong t' me," Liliana adds and weakly waggles a finger at the apparition.
Olivia's seriousness falters. "Wait, what??"
If things weren't weird enough, the 'demon' throws its head back and laughs silently.
"Jus' play along!" Liliana whispers to Olivia.
Being this close two two fairly strong 'demonic' presences (Liliana's and Buffy), Amelia herself starts to feel pretty … strange. Tingly.
Olivia just gives Liliana a look, but at last she agrees. "Uh… yeah. Right. I forgot," she says weakly.
"Rrrr," Amy mutters, and scratches at her arms. "I hope this doesn't take too long. I don't know if I'm getting an allergy or if I want to join in… "
The two forming bumps on Amelia's forehead seem to imply the latter.
"Control yourself, Amelia," Isolde notes sternly.
Inside the circle, the spectral demon approaches the two and crouches down before them. Its chest expands and contracts as if breathing, but there is no movement of air from its mouth. It does, however, lick over its 'lips' with an extremely long tongue.
"Gah, it's like when Liliana is exposed to other demonic stuff, I think," Amelia complains, trying to make sure that if she does change, she'll still be the one in control.
"Okay, now I see where you get some of your personality from," Olivia mutters to the Eeee, becoming more and more uncomfortable with how things are progressing.
The spectral Eeee lunges towards Olivia, only to divert away in the last moment and grab Liliana. The strange entity cradles the bat in its arms and then snogs her! Poor Liliana's eyes go wide from the shock!
Olivia squeaks in alarm, both from the lunge and watching Liliana get snogged! "Um… is this supposed to happen?" she asks the room at large.
"I hope that's not how all demons are!" Amelia yelps from the sidelines, where's mostly turned red by now.
It goes from a snog to what looks like the demon being swallowed by Liliana. The Eeee's eyes remain wide. The blue irises begin to blur away as a surge of red light overtakes the bat's eyes, basking the ceiling in a blood-red glow. Within the next few seconds the demonic spirit is gone and Liliana has collapsed to the stone floor, eyes closed.
"I wonder if that will happen to me in thirty years," Buffy mutters.
"Lili!" Olivia squeaks again, hovering over the bat. "Lili, are you all right?"
Good grief is Liliana fast! The next thing Olivia knows is she's flat on her back with an Eeee sitting on her and pinning her down with her hands on the Skeek's shoulders. Her eyes are bright red again and the bat has a very disturbing smile playing on her lips. Mimicking what the spirit did earlier, Liliana licks her lips…
Olivia acks and tries to squirm free! "H-hey n-now," she stammers, "I t-told you! No snogging me!"
"No?" Liliana asks. And the next thing Olivia knows is there are two sharp pinpricks that flare up on her shoulder. Instead of kissing her, Liliana has clamped her jaws on the Skeek's shoulder and those pinpricks just have to be the Eeee's fangs. Wow, the bat just bit her. Not only that, she can feel a really odd sort of suckling that follows.
"Oh, so that's how it's done," Buffy says, nodding along and tapping one cheek with a finger.
The sensation of having some of the blood drawn out of her is certainly strange… but not completely uncomfortable, Olivia finds. So she just exhales and goes with it, her head rolling to one side. Within minutes, the Skeek is fully relaxed on the floor.
"Ewww, does she have to make the sound when she does it though?" Amy asks.
Which just gives Liliana the opportunity to feel up Olivia just before she releases her jaws and sits up. Giggling, she says, "Ya shoulda seen de look on yer face. It was like yas were afraid I was gonna suck yer brains out through yer nose."
"Well, she seems normal again," Buffy declares. "Is there anything else you need from me, Natasha?" the spirit asks.
Olivia doesn't get up just yet, since she's still finding it rather hard to move. So all she does is stick her tongue out at the Eeee in retaliation.
Natasha for her part just shakes her head. She snaps her fingers and the shimmering barrier that surrounds the two collapses. She's about to to Answer Buffy when Liliana chimes in, "How abouts a kiss before you go?"
"You want to turn into a demon again already?" Buffy asks the Eeee, shaking her head. She points to Amelia, and notes, "She'll want to fight you then, probably."
Liliana hmphs and crosses her arms. "Then kin I visit you in a few days?" the Eeee offers.
"You still need an escort, so you'll have to talk Parsley into it somehow," Buffy notes with a grin.
"She's a Lapi. I know how to motivate Lapis," Liliana clams as she grins. She then points at Amelia. "C'mere."
"No!" Amy chitters. "I got your spirit back, so… not tempting my demon now!"
"I wanna snog someone!" Liliana complains, "An everyone else scares me."
"Don't look at me," Isolde says, waggling her hairpin.
"Djivan's knocked out cold up in the tree," Amy suggests.
Natasha just rolls her eyes and goes to Olivia. As she helps the Skeek sit up, she says, "Are you okay? The bite doesn't look bad."
"Are yas afraid of me, Amelia?" Liliana taunts and waggles her brow at the Kadie.
"I'm having a weird reaction," Amy notes. "I don't want my demon trying to take over again. It says things in my head and is very annoying."
Ever so slowly (and somewhat dizzily), Olivia sits up with the Khatta's help and leans against the wall. "Sorry, Morgan's not here," she grins to Lili. "No snogs for you." Then she says to Natasha, "I'm okay, just really groggy. Maybe I should sleep this off with Djivan?"
"I bets I kin shut it up!" Liliana claims.
"We could let Lili snog that old wizard," Amy suggests.
"If you like. We will tend to his arm better in the morning when there is sunlight," Natasha says with a small nod. And then probably to Olivia's surprise, Natasha actually picks Olivia up in her arms.
"Hm. I know, I just snog da Zahnrad. It'll get Amelia t' snog me back, heheh," Liliana cackles. The bat then shakes her head a few times, looking annoyed. "Meh, I usually better at suppressing dis sort of stuffs," she complains.
"You've been doing without so it's like… being drunk, maybe?" Amy suggests.
"Or could be the effects of the Skeek Juice," Isolde notes straight-faced.
Olivia blinks a few times but at last she leans her head against the Khatta's shoulder. "You're really strong," she says, out of the blue. The loss of blood has probably made her more likely to say such things. "I'm not light for a Skeek."
"Mebbe," Liliana admits, "I shoul' go visit dat whacky otter in de morning and work it out o' me system."
Amelia doesn't say anything to that. She's still trying to calm herself down.
"I'm also a lot bigger than you and I have to look after an entire tribe. I've carried my share of sick children," Natasha points out. "Come on, I'll take you up to Djivan so you can both rest. It has been a trying day and I still have to deal with Leni and the other crystals."
"There are more of them?" Buffy asks.
"Did ya know that when he gets real excited dat de otter makes de cutest lil squeaking noises an 'is toes curl?" Liliana asks Amelia.
"Many," Natasha says to Buffy a bit tiredly. "It will take some time to sort out and dispel."
Amy just boggles at Lili. "No!" she says, and covers her ears.
"But they are demons, not regular spirits?" Buffy asks next. "They can… well… think… can't they?"
Olivia yawns widely and closes her eyes. "Okay, thanks. But I'm not a child anymore, though," she rambles on, tiredly. "I'm gonna be eighteen this summer."
"I won't know till I examine each more closely. Some may be demons, some may not. I'm not sure that old clergyman could tell the difference very well," Natasha explains.
"Well, let me know if you need to… put them somewhere," Buffy says, and in a more somber tone asks, "And please try to ask them what they want before just… snuffing them out."
"Are you asking me to involve you?" the Khatta asks. "I could summon you when I begin examinations."
"If there are some nice ones, I'd like to meet them," Buffy says to Natasha as she nods to the question.
Natasha nods at this. "You're lonely," she says.
"The children are a handful," Buffy notes. "I know they'll never grow or change, but having some babysitters would be nice."
Natasha pauses at this. "One of them is the brother of a young girl named Leni. He had a son," she says. "If she allowed it and he wished it, he may be a good choice."
"I'd like to meet him then," Buffy says, smiling.
Olivia nods sleepily against Natasha's shoulder. "I think Leni would like that," she agrees.
"Then we will discuss more tomorrow," Natasha says as she carries Olivia towards the exit. "Come along, Liliana."
"Well… I suppose she would," Amelia says, rubbing at her forehead to try and push the horns back in.
Liliana pushes herself to her feet and walks after Natasha. She can't help but look at Amelia and offer, "I kin show yas how horns kin be fun… "
"Congratulations on recovering Lili, by the way," Buffy says, and then fades out along with the spirit door.
"I still haven't figured out how to tell Zahn about any of this," Amelia notes worriedly. "He's been alone all day with Parsley. I hope he hasn't forgotten me!"
"Just show him. Honesty is always best!" Liliana claims.
"He probably needs saving by now, Amelia," Olivia says from Natasha's arms. "You might have to carry him home. I'll bet he's really, really tired." Apparently, she's still babbling a bit.
"Says the girl who hid from everyone when she sprouted hooves… " Amy mutters.