Jess was just pulling into traffic, and was shocked enough that my little Neon was almost crushed by an oncoming SUV. Somehow she avoided the SUV, but we ended up parking on the opposite shoulder of the road. All without taking her eyes off of our now-speaking Devil-Doggie.
That takes skill.
"What have you bitches done to me?" the devil-dog snarled. I'd say his eyes held all the evil of the fires of hell, but in his currant form as a terrier, that wouldn't be saying much. Can you tell that I'm not a fan of terriers?
"Hey, hey, language!" yelled Connie. The look that Jess gave her would've withered whole forests.
"I'm really not all the concerned about your sensibilities right now," he growled. "Ten minutes ago I was one of the Hounds of Hell. I tore up souls for breakfast. Now I feel the urge to have my tummy scratched and chase after little jingle-balls!"
Jess and I both looked at Connie. It was her spell that had transformed a snarling, drooling HellHound into a snarling, drooling terrier.
"I don't know what happened!" she said defensively. "That collar was only meant to give him the *personality* of a terrier. It should've taken a whole coven to even attempt to transmogrify him. No one person has the power!"
Her phrasing hit a small chord, and I could feel my mind struggling to make a connection. Apparently it showed, because Jess and Connie both looked at me expectantly. Even the terrier shut up, and became fascinated by his tail.
"Amy was casting spells that take power, but not finesse.... Jess, you said that an actual spiritual manifestation is possible, but takes raw power.... and Connie, your spell somehow got so much power that it changed not just his personality, but his shape... We all felt the change when we came to this town."
"So it must be the town itself that's providing all of this excess power." Jess reasoned.
Meanwhile, the dog rolled his eyes. "Idiots," he groused, "you're on the Hellmouth. You could've saved yourself the effort of working those brain synapses and just asked me."
It's times like this that I really hate dogs.
Mystical convergence. Mouth of Hell. Boca de Inferno.
Fascinating trivia given to us via a terrier, but it wasn't bringing us a step closer to finding my niece. Half an hour after we pulled over, we resettled ourselves in our Neon and began driving back to Ben's house, this time with me in the driver's seat. Jess was relegated to the backseat, right next to our demon terrier.
All of us were pretty quiet. I don't know what the dog was thinking about, but the rest of us were still pretty shell-shocked over this Hellmouth thing. Sure, there are places all over the world where magic is at its strongest, but even reports of Stonehenge failed to match up to this place. No wonder Catherine had never wanted to move from this town -- without the boost from the mystical forces, she wouldn't have been able to cast even a quarter of the spells that she was used to.
Suddenly, everyone's thoughts were interrupted by the sudden manic barking of Devil-Doggie. Thinking that he had just seen a squirrel or something, I ignored him at first. Then, he snarled, "Pull over!" Since once pets start talking you feel inclined to listen to them, I did so.
"What, do you have to go water a tree?" Jess asked. A nasty growl was her only answer. But the next thing I knew, the terrier had jumped onto my lap, and was pawing at the door like any other house-broken dog who is feeling the call of nature. It was Connie, naturally, who gave his actions a little more thought.
"Do you smell Amy?" she asked. Jess and I both thwapped our heads for that one. For all that he was now in the form of a doggie, this was still a demon. More so, a demon who had been summoned to find my wayward niece. His urinary functions aside, this was still his top priority.
Clipping the leash to his collar, the three of us climbed out. As soon as his little feet touched the ground, devil-doggie was off like a shot. It was all I could do to keep up with him enough to keep the little idiot from choking himself in his eagerness. Apparently he was picking up more than a few normal terrier personality traits.
Our furry little friend led us straight to the door of a typical suburban home. He then embarked on throwing himself bodily at the door. Whining, yapping, and scratching at the paint. Yeah, he was definitely a terrier now.
Jess kinda shrugged in a 'this is weird, but I'm going with it' motion, and rang the bell. Despite the dog's frantic barking, I could hear footsteps as someone approached the door from the other side. It opened, revealing a red-haired teenage girl who was clearly wondering what the three of us were selling. But before she could say anything, the dog gave a lunge that yanked the leash from my hand, and went tearing right up the stairs in true hyper-doggie fashion.
The three of us, plus the very confused redhead, ran up after him, and followed the sound of joyous yapping into what was probably the teenager's room, judging from the light colors, occasional stuffed animals, and clothes draped over random surfaces. The dog, however, was sitting on top of a small cage and barking down at a completely freaked out rat.
While in college, I took a course in surrealist painting. The masters of the craft would've killed to paint this scene.
While Connie apologize to the girl and attempted to come up with some explanation as to why we rang her doorbell, I collected the dog. This left Jess to snoop. The redhead was understanding of whatever spiel Connie thought up, and even gave us some bacon to keep Demon-Doggie quiet on the ride home.
Once back at Ben's house, we sat around the table to discuss everything we had learned. Jess revealed that while snooping around the redhead's room, she had seen a rather interesting book lying right next to the rat-food. 'Animal Transformation' was the title. Demon-Doggie asserted quite confidently that the rat was his target. This led to a very clear, yet very strange, result.
My niece was a rat.