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Giles set the cup of tea down on his desk and wondered why he had agreed to be a bloody high school librarian. Oh yes, that’s right, because of the slayer. He sat down at his desk and began going through the morning mail. With half his mind on something other than what he was doing, he almost missed the small, letter-sized envelope. It was rather thick, and had no return address.

Curiosity getting the better of him, he slit open the end of the envelope with a dagger-shaped letter opener and peered inside. Seeing nothing but a sheet of paper folded up to fit in the envelope, he dumped it out onto the desk. The paper looked old, was very thick and wrinkled. Taking great care, he unfolded it and stared in astonishment.

Tucked into the top fold of the old paper, was a smaller note on clean white paper.

Mr. Giles,

I came across this paper a few weeks ago and set it aside as I am unable to translate it. Certain events that have transpired recently, along with the recommendation of several acquaintances of whom we have in common, has prompted me to forward this paper to you.

I believe it is a prophecy concerning not only the Hellmouth on which you reside, but also pertains to your slayer. I hope you have better luck translating it than I did, which is to say I had no luck at all.

Yours,

Mr. L.B. Kitchener

Giles blinked and snatched up the heavy sheet of parchment. Written in a dark ink, were several lines in what appeared to be Egyptian Hieroglyphics, but if the attached note were to be believed, it was not that simple. Maybe an earlier form of pictographic writing? Only research would solve the questions that ran rampant through his mind.

His tea, and his surroundings, completely forgotten Giles bent himself to the task of trying to solve this particularly interesting puzzle he had been given.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy sighed softly to herself as she exited her apartment. Checking to make sure the door was locked; she pocketed the key and headed out into the night. As she passed Mrs. Zhuāng, she gave her a wave and a small smile.

The elderly Chinese lady waved cheerfully at Buffy and shouted after her. “You be careful Xiao Zhn Sh, come back in one piece, with no holes! I have supper waiting for you when you come back. You come see me right away!”

Buffy turned and gave Mrs. Zhuāng a quick nod and a tender smile. “Of course Mrs. Zhuāng, I’ll be careful. You don’t have to cook for me though.”

Mrs. Zhuāng put her hands on her hips and glared at Buffy. “You save my little Lian from those bad boys. You family now. Do not argue with me Zhn Sh, you know I right. You come back safe and eat food I make for you.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll eat the food. You know I love your cooking.” Buffy grinned. “Besides, I don’t want you swatting me with that broom again. It hurt.”

“Okay, good. You go now and do your job. Protect innocent from bad things. I see you later.” Mrs. Zhuāng waved her hands in a shooing motion, then turned around, and went back inside the rear door of her kitchen.

Buffy shook her head and wondered when her life had become so complicated and yet simplified. As she turned to begin her nightly patrol of the neighborhood, she laughed mockingly at herself. She knew exactly when her life had become so complicated as well as when it simplified itself.

Thinking back, she remembered the day he first approached her. She had thought he was some old pervert out looking for underage sex. Turned out he was looking for her, specifically. Told her a few things, which she had laughed off, until he had thrown that knife at her, and she had caught it. Yeah, Merrick had complicated her life, and yet she wouldn’t have had it any other way. Buffy was distracted from her thoughts by the sound of a woman’s voice, begging to be left alone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Giles was so engrossed in trying to decipher the parchment he had been sent, that he did not hear the knock on his office door.

“Mr. Giles? Are you in there Mr. Giles?” the voice of a young girl wafted through the door. Just then, the door opened and the pixie-like face of a redheaded girl popped into view. “Oh there you are. We were wondering where you were. Everyone is here, and well, we don’t know where to start or even what to do. Oh and Angel is here, says he needs to talk to you about something important, and Mrs. Summers is here looking for you…” her voice trailed off as Giles finally turned his attention to her.

“Willow? What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be in classes?” Giles enquired.

“Classes are out for the day Mr. Giles. It’s after 4 o’clock.” Willow informed him.

“Oh my. I seem to have lost track of the time. Well I guess we should get down to business then. I’ll just be a moment more.” Giles turned back to his desk and picked up the parchment, before standing up and ushering Willow back out into the main part of the library.

Everyone looked up as Giles cleared his throat. “Right then, down to business. Angel, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to patrol again tonight.”

“That’s fine. I figured I would do a couple of sweeps before sunrise anyway. I just stopped in to tell you that something seems to be disturbing the demon population. I’m not too sure what it is, but with the Harvest not too far off…” Angel trailed off as Giles simply nodded at him.

“Fine, fine. Let me know if you hear anything more about preparations for the Harvest.” Giles requested.

Angel simply nodded and melted back into the stacks, making his way to the tunnel system beneath Sunnydale.

“Now then, I received a rather puzzling letter this morning. Seems I was sent what appears to be an original copy of a prophecy pertaining to the Hellmouth and to the slayer.” Giles started, spreading out the parchment on the table. “Unfortunately, neither the gentleman who sent it to me, nor I, can figure out what it means. I may need your help in translating it.”

“You can count on me Giles. I just love puzzles.” Willow bounced excitedly in her seat.

“I’ll just go fetch some donuts and coffee,” Xander said, rising to his feet. “Cordie, can you drive me?”

“Sure, anything to get away from this place, even spending time with you.” Cordelia replied as she haughtily exited the library.

Joyce laughed as Xander hurriedly followed Cordelia out of the room. “Well, let’s see this mysterious paper that kept you bottled up in your office all day.” She slid the paper over so she could look at it, and frowned. “Does any of this make sense to you?”

“Not at all I’m afraid. It looks like some form of pictographical writing, but I can not make heads or tails out of it.” Giles answered with a sigh as he wandered over to the cage where he kept some of his more interesting books.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy darted into the dark alley that she heard the woman’s voice coming from. She took in the scene with one glance. There were five rather rough looking men pulling at a young, dark-haired girl in long dress. “Didn’t your mothers ever teach you to pick on someone your own size?” Buffy asked in a serious tone of voice. “I suggest you let the girl go and get out of here before something happens that you won’t like.”

The leader of the group turned to Buffy with an evil smirk on his face. “Oh something will happen, cupcake. But I guarantee I’m going to enjoy it.” He shifted into his vampiric features and advanced on Buffy. “I’m going to enjoy this a lot.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


A/N: Translations

Xiao Zhn Sh – Little Warrior




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