The leaves were still green in the treetops although an autumn chill had crept into the air. A squirrel, as white as snow, unnoticed by the group standing on the hill, peered out from the leaves as Buffy, who had been looking into a valley, lowered her binoculars. "Why is there a woman standing in a huge barrel and looking at a wood chip?"
"Really?" Giles asked, grabbing the binoculars. "That's a birch-wood cauldron," he said in awe.
"And that makes a difference because?" Buffy asked. When Giles didn't reply, she added, "So, what are we looking at here? Simple demon? Apocalypse?"
"Kalevetar, magic maiden, grace and beauty in her fingers. Swiftly moving," he started to chant.
"Hey, G-Man? Less poetry and more explainy maybe?" Xander asked.
"She's a Goddess," Renee, with one arm around Xander's waist, replied. "From Finland. He's quoting the Kalevala, the section on the origin of beer."
"Beer?" Buffy asked as her eyes narrowed.
"She may not be a goddess so much as the actual spirit of brewing," Giles started.
"So," Buffy interrupted, speaking slowly as if working something out. "If I kill that demon, there'll be no more beer?"
"Not necessarily," Giles answered. "Some scholars have theorized she's actually associated with ale or even mead." He was speaking to dead air. Buffy had started running down into the valley. "Buffy, no," Giles called out. "She's not a demon."
"Buffy," Xander shouted as he ran after her. "Beer good. Foamy. You like beer, remember?"
"Stop, I like mead." Andrew, chasing after Xander, had appeared out of nowhere, dressed in shades of blue: navy pants, a dark top, although lighter than the pants, with a full length cape of the same shade, and a patterned belt combining the two colors. A flash of gold shone out from the underside of the cape as he ran by.
It was echoed on the chest of a marten that scurried after the group into the valley. "Oh dear," said Renee, her eyes tracking the scampering beast.
Distracted, Giles asked, "Why is Andrew dressed as..." Removing his glasses, he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Why am I even bothering to ask that question?"
The marten, which had started out after the group, had reached the cauldron before them. "Mr. Giles, sir? Something seems to be happening," Renee said.
Giles peered through the binoculars again. It was only a moment before his voice echoed throughout the glen. "Retreat. Everyone, back to the castle. Now."
Renee, with a quick glance to see that Xander, Andrew, and Buffy were following Giles' directions, started racing after him. "What is it?"
Giles glanced at her but instead put on more speed. Once inside, he stopped just inside the door to catch his breath. "Higher," he said between pants. "Off the lower floors."
As Renee relayed his instructions and waited for the stragglers, Giles made his way to the turrets. After a shake had disrupted even those heavy stone walls, Xander, Andrew, and Renee joined him near the outer walls while the other Slayers maintained a respectful distance.
"Buffy's still out there," Xander shouted as he looked over the turrets at the surging liquid which threatened to spill onto the ledge of the castle.
"It's seeping through the walls. My equipment," a dark haired Slayer shouted as she ran for the stairs. It took five Slayers to hold her down and keep her from risking her life by descending to the basement.
"Rose the live beer upward, upward,
From the bottom of the vessels,
Upward in the tubs of birch-wood
Foaming higher, higher, higher,
Till it touched the oaken handles,
Overflowing all the cauldrons,
To the ground it foamed and sparkled," Giles chanted.
"Wait, that's beer?" Xander shouted. "Buffy drowned in beer? Oh, she's gonna be pissed."
"Or possibly mead," Andrew said.
Xander turned on him. "I think drowned is the pertinent..."
"Hey, a little help here?" they heard from the sea of beer.
"Buffy?" Giles shouted.
"I can only dog paddle so long," she complained. Three of the Slayers reached over to pull her up over the turrets. "Ugh, I smell like beer. What's the sitch?"
"All present and accounted for," Xander told her, his soldier memories coming to the fore.
"I'm the only one who got caught in that?"
"You're the only one who tried to attack a Goddess," Renee replied.
"Well, wouldn't be the first time. Guess I should be glad I didn't die," Buffy replied.
Xander grabbed her into a hug. Buffy tentatively patted his the back. "I thought you were dead," he explained, releasing her.
"Ow," Andrew shouted. "That bee stung me," he added, swiping at his arm. As the bee flew before his face, his eyes crossed, trying to track it.
Giles, turning back to Buffy, said, "We suspect some damage to the equipment but..."
"Um, guys," Andrew interrupted pointing away from the castle. "It's gone."
Turning, they saw that the sea of beer had vanished, leaving the countryside looking just as before except for one largish detail. "What's that in the valley?" Andrew asked.
"I'm guesstimating it's a lake of beer," Giles said.
"Oh," Andrew exclaimed, "or maybe mead."
"Whatever," Buffy replied. "I'm not going anywhere near any demon lake."
"It's not demonic," Renee said as she passed out cups of mead. "It's St. Brigid's lake."
Renee raised her glass.
"I'd like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I'd love the heavenly host to be tippling there for all eternity.
Every drop would be a prayer."
After drinking to her toast, Andrew asked, "Um, guys? Where'd the mead and all the cups come from?"