The Monks of Dagon have the power to pour energy into matter. It is the greatest, most devotedly guarded skill of their order.
To use it, one must have the consent of the heads of every sister monastery, and the Chapter of the lead house – all voting together, all guarding part of the ritual. In ancient times, it protected the world from the terror that could be unleashed through imprudent use of their unique power.
Now, there is but one house, and three members of Chapter. (And one of those is dead.) So where is the brake on imprudence now?
To build a human is a complex business. The essence-magic though is relatively simple, assuming you have a collective will of great power supported by the prayers of a host of pure men. Also a single precious hair from the head of the Slayer. On this they can construct. They are not scientists. This is not a process of genetic replication. One begins with a concrete fact: the Slayer's hair. This is the focus. On that strand, they will combine and build till they have a human being with two arms - two legs - a head - eyes - ears - brain - and heart.
The section of brothers least experienced in creation is simply focused on this fact for the duration of the task. Think of the Slayer. Prepare to shape her world. Open the possibilities. Find the moments when there is space for Another to join her. Could a second person have stood there? Sat there? Argued then? Laughed and danced on the sands that night? Is there space for the Key in this world? (There is always space, history shows). These men search every aspect of the Slayer's life, insert their minds into the gaps they find, and ram the Key inside.
They are bending time as they chant. Every created flicker of Dawn's being is reflected in ripples. At first, the changes are small. Buffy and Joyce remember a baby in the room while Buffy learned to read. Joyce's recollections of one pregnancy are split between two. A sprinkle of young people in Los Angeles acquire vague new ex-schoolmate-memories. Sunnydale is tougher. More than school, there are friends. Buffy's friends, those most likely to penetrate the Key's cover. Dawn Summers will find herself curiously isolated when she comes to pass. The Monks have little chance to identify 'friends' of her own.
The more complex work is in the creation of matter from energy. Here the most skilled must spend their own spiritual energies, intense and unspeaking. Jiri, Radek and Vaclav are the core. They have built skills for the whole of their long, quiet, reflective careers. Radek is master. He began at the age of seven, in the monastic school, though he had no plans then to make the Order of Dagon his vocation. But the moment of first transformation found him hooked: a simple matter of creating words on paper. The first step on the road which brought him here.
She will be female. The Order intend it as a defence. Those intending evil will, surely, find it harder to attack a young, pure woman. Even the Knights of Byzantium must have pity. (Are they naive? Certainly.) The choice of form means, however, that Dawn will herself be essentially defenceless. There had been a faction which argued for the creation of a super-man of vast power, not needing the Slayer's help. But such a man would be alone in the world – there is no space for him. Besides, the Key must be guarded. It is a tenet of their faith.
But mysticism and belief can only create so much. These are monks of the Order of Dagon: ancient, mystical, secluded. They know little of American teenagers, and cannot create one from whole cloth. There must be patterns: they have that much self-awareness. There is a ritual here too, of course. (Always a ritual. Never be rushed. All in its time and in its place.) Pattern cards are considered, prayed over, selected. Three girls are chosen. These therefore are the components of Dawn Summers, assembled together to create a suitable vessel to carry the Key. They are the Monks' conscious nominees.
Anezka Truelove, daughter of two free spirits. A girl who died far too young, and now lives again. (Perhaps.) She had long brown hair, vast blue eyes and a compulsion to record her own life which led her to keep a diary almost as soon as she could write. She is the physical pattern for Dawn Summers. She was also a virgin, something the monks felt it vital to replicate. No man ever sullied her body. A vessel for the Key must be pure. (Did they ever ask themselves what would happen if the vessel became "impure"? Not aloud, certainly).
Marjeta, a reluctant younger sister. The one who always wanted to be like Lida but was never allowed to play her games – caught between hero-worship and resentment. She is the pattern for social relationships. We can see her print in Dawn's earliest utterances. Marjeta was somewhat shy and tended to quiet conformity. Sometimes, she made friends with Lida's friends – the kinder ones, who perhaps longed for a younger sister of their own. They would play chess together. Marina once taught her to lead with her knight. She always favoured the move after that. But she rarely led otherwise in life.
Zuza had a gift. That was why they chose her: they wanted the Key to be extraordinary, deserving its true nature. She learned. A miracle in the classroom, though they had no intention of replicating that in full – far too conspicuous. But perhaps they let through more than they planned. Very few modern girls learn Sumerian. Zuza did. Dawn likewise, in a single day, out of nothing. Her friends and family will believe, in two years and six months' time, that it was an ancient enchantment. And perhaps it was indeed. The work of the Monks is far from simple.
Brother Jiri has a sister too. He is remembers her as he builds and creates the being who will be Dawn. Her name is Eliska, and these days she has three sons and a waistline no longer. But he remembers her as a teenager, and it is those memories that come to him as he tries to visualise his creation with sufficient power to transform that glowing essence into flesh. A little gawky on her new long legs, skirts never quite the right length on those always-growing pins. As he builds his new Dawn, tendrils of Eliska grow in her.
As the Beast draws near, the Monks falter. Who can blame them? Tiny flaws creep into the design. A scar on her leg that has no story attached, when Dawn comes to search her memories.
Is it the Beast that introduced Dawn's light-fingered tendencies? That will to raise the quiet dead? The self-loathing that will lead her someday soon to cut at herself to see her created blood run? But perhaps those were introduced from elsewhere in the pattern cards.
Or else, perhaps, it isn't so simple to build a girl. Not just a matter of stacking rectangles on ovals.