Spike glared resentfully across the road at the pub in the small Irish village which seemed to be the only occupied building in the whole soddin' place. But then, given that Ballybumbum-whatever consisted solely of the tavern and a half-dozen other houses, it was no surprise that tonight, everyone of all ages, gender, and occupation in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it place was crowded inside the thatched inn, drinking and talking and drinking and singing and drinking, and otherwise having a perfectly wonderful time.

Unlike a poor, hungry vampire who was thoroughly regretting the necessity of visiting Ireland around the time of what was later spoken as 'before the Great War.' Well, his reasons for having to hastily leave his last location to come here were bleedin' private, thank you very much, but it might've actually been worth being staked in London, considering how empty his stomach was right this minute!

The demon in a young human's deceased body cautiously leaned forward, only to flinch backwards at once when his skin started to smolder again. Bloody hell, whoever put up the protective magical wards around this place had really known what they were doing. Worse of all, they covered the entire tiny village, so he couldn't even hang around until closing time and devour some thoroughly sloshed wanker staggering towards their home. Giving one last evil glower at the supernaturally-safeguarded pub, Spike slouched down the road, on his way to the next village miles further on, where hopefully there'd be someone to eat.


Not expecting at all the loud noise coming from right under his boots, an alarmed Spike jumped straight up into the air a good yard or so, coming back down to land flat-footedly on the graveled road leading away from the pub. The vampire goggled at the little duck which was presently blocking his path, with this small aquatic bird giving the undead human that had almost trampled it a beady, suspicious glower over its yellow bill.

Spike now returning this mistrustful expression with his own sudden smile of pure malevolence, making this wary duck begin sidling away backwards on its webbed feet. In the very next instant, a monster's abrupt rush caused this avian's panicky calling for its protector, all to no avail: "QUACK! QUA- SQUAWWWK!"

Afterwards, Spike was feeling a great deal better for getting the chance to at last kill something. As he continued to happily stroll down the road, the vampire didn't even mind having to use his right thumbnail as a toothpick to remove all the duck feathers which had become caught between his fangs.

Sometime later, a red-haired woman in her mid-forties came out of the pub, standing on the threshold to carefully look around in the bright moonlight at the area in the front of the building. She really hadn't been sure, but this woman thought the centuries-old wards around this tavern might've sent her a warning several minutes ago. Unfortunately, despite being descended from generations of Irish witches, Nuala O'Farrell just didn't have all that much magical power, which she'd resignedly accepted years before. Her innate talents seemed to have gone instead into music, with Nuala being one of County Longford's most gifted singers. This thankfully got people from all over to visit her remote pub and gladly pay for the privilege of listening in thrall to the old, old songs performed by someone with actual enchantment in her sparkling voice.

Still, Nuala had felt something was wrong outside just before, but she hadn't time for a break until now. Glancing once more around at everything in her vicinity, an object finally caught the woman's eye further down the road. There, pitifully lying dead upon the gravel, was her pet duck! From the looks of things, it'd been murdered about when the wards had gone off!

As an expression of pure fury passed over Nuala's strong face, she made a mighty vow inside her mind upon whatever least bit of magic she possessed that whoever - or whatever - had done this would indeed pay. Wheeling around to storm back into the pub, the door slamming shut behind the enraged Irishwoman, a piercing voice easily passed through this panel while it also silenced everybody else in the building.

"All right, me friends, here's a special song for everyone! Ye'll know it, I'm wagerin', but I'm now in the mood for givin' all me heart in it! So, listen, boyos…"

There was a pause for a few moments, and then a superb vocalist unknowingly capable of calling up the unearthly powers by her words alone started to merrily sing:

Oh me name it is Nell and the truth for to tell
I come from Cootehill which I'll never deny
I had a fine drake and I'd die for his sake
That me grandmother left me and she goin' to die
The dear little fellow his legs they were yellow
He could fly like a swallow or swim like a hake
Till some dirty savage to grease his white cabbage
Most wantonly murdered me beautiful drake

Now his neck it was green almost fit to be seen
He was fit for a queen of the highest degree
His body was white, and it would you delight
He was plump, fat, and heavy and brisk as a bee
He was wholesome and sound, he would weigh twenty pound
And the universe round I would roam for his sake
Bad luck to the robber be he drunk or sober
That murdered Nell Flaherty's beautiful drake

May his spade never dig, may his sow never pig
May each hair in his wig be well trashed with the flail
May his door never latch, may his roof have no thatch
May his turkeys not hatch, may the rats eat his meal
May every old fairy from Cork to Dun Laoghaire
Dip him snug and airy in river or lake
That the eel and the trout they may dine on the snout
Of the monster that murdered Nell Flaherty's drake

May his pig never grunt, may his cat never hunt
May a ghost ever haunt him the dead of the night
May his hens never lay, may his horse never neigh
May his coat fly away like an old paper kite
That the flies and the fleas may the wretch ever tease
May the piercin' March breeze make him shiver and shake
May a lump of the stick raise the bumps fast and quick
On the monster that murdered Nell Flaherty's drake

Well the only good news that I have to infuse
Is that old Paddy Hughes and young Anthony Blake
Also Johnny Dwyer and Corney Maguire
They each have a grandson of me darlin' drake
Me treasure has dozens of nephews and cousins
And one I must get or me heart it will break
For to set me mind easy or else I'll run crazy
So ends the whole song of Nell Flaherty's drake

Sitting down with his back against the stone breakwater protecting the harbor of Holyhead, a Wales coastal town facing the Irish Sea, the former Colonel Richard Huntingford was contently spending his retirement doing what he preferred most, after dreaming of it during the entire last decade of his Army career from the Boer War on. He was fishing, with nobody to bother him, shooting at him, giving him stupid orders, or expecting him to pass on equally stupid orders. Spending the whole night with a pole, hook, and line dipped into the calm ocean beyond was what he'd prayed for in numerous remote Empire pestholes he'd faithfully defended for Queen (then King) and Country. Frankly, the ex-soldier would've been more than willing to just give those bloody places back to the natives, but now some other poor bugger was getting malaria or sunstroke or even bubonic plague there. He, on the other hand, was wrapped up warm as toast in his fishing kit, pipe drawing nicely, a flask full of brandy at his hip-

The elderly man smugly listing his comforts was abruptly distracted by a loud splashing sound coming from below, where the massive blocks of stone protecting the harbor behind him reared up from out of the black waters. Idly peering down, Huntingford thought it likely he'd see there a seal or perhaps a stranded fish, or-

The startled fisherman didn't expect at all what was really there, an actual bloke climbing up from out of the ocean. Huntingford sat frozen in shock there, not moving a muscle otherwise. Continuing to hold immobile his fishing rod, the older man gawked at somebody having the appearance of surviving not only a shipwreck, but a volcanic eruption combined with a train smash, all at the same time one way or another.

The blond stranger's entire clothing was tattered, slashed, and scorched, and not only that, he bore the tormented expression of someone who'd unwillingly visited Hell itself. Huntingford hadn't seen anyone looking like that ever since he'd been part of the force which relieved Mafeking. Not daring to say anything, the combat veteran simply watched as the newcomer eventually scrambled onto the top of the breakwater and stood there shivering while he totally ignored the nearby witness to this. Instead, the younger man wrapped his arms around himself, and then he started staggering towards the town. All while continually moaning under his breath something which the fishing enthusiast could hear quite well:

"Ireland, Ireland, Ireland…"

Unthinkingly turning his head to gaze straight forwards in the darkness at where that named island was just fifty miles to the west over the waves, Huntingford couldn't see any ship around from which that bloke might've swum from. Glancing again along the breakwater, the fisherman again stared in disbelief, only this time due to the fact now there wasn't anyone around. Instead of the stranger who should've been there a few dozen yards away, nothing but a deserted stretch of breakwater presented itself to the elderly man's attention.

After thinking this over for a few minutes and taking a hurried nip from his flask, Huntingford eventually shrugged, made another cast with his pole, and he did his best to forget the whole bizarre episode. After all, Ireland was reputed to be a bloody eccentric place, so it seemed likely it'd produce equally odd effects upon whoever had the bad luck to visit that bally island.

Author's Note: Nell Flaherty's Drake is an anonymous Irish ballad from the early 19th century. I couldn't resist using its imaginative curses upon Spike!