Friday, January 18, 2013

The Bad News

"Give me the bad news," I said.

"I think the plot to ambush your funeral was a setup," he said.  "How'd that go, by the way?" he added as though he were a coworker inquiring politely about my children whom he'd never met. 

"Fine," I answered tersely.  "What do you mean by setup?"

"It seems it was a diversion," he explained.  "Someone wanted to break Azraal out of the Department of Enforcement, and that plan was timed with a scheme to get you out of Hell."

"Someone?  Who?" I asked.

"Hell if I know," Gus said, allowing himself a slight smirk at yet another Hell-pun.  "Azraal, I assume, although it would have been difficult to organize during his incarceration.  But the idea was that you'd have to appoint a temporary Devil in your absence, and Azraal would be poised to overpower the weaker substitute, work the spell, and usurp your throne while you were busy trying to save your family from a couple of Low-Order Demons."

"Wow," I said.  I'd been duped.  I didn't really have much of a choice other than to go save my family, but I didn't like how easily I'd been manipulated.  "I take it we were mere minutes away from that plan coming to fruition?"

"Seconds, more like," Gus amended, rubbing the spot on his throat where Azraal's knife had been pressed.

"So Azraal is no longer neutralized," I said.  "And the Department of Enforcement is empty--does that mean there was some kind of mass breakout?  Am I going to have to fight off the worst demons from millenia ago?"

Gus shook his head.  "Thankfully, no.  So far, it looks like the supply of the cocktail used to limit demonic powers was compromised--but specifically for Azraal.  Seems like some kind of inside job.  But it was just him, all the other inmates remain imprisoned."

"Then why is the department empty?" I asked.

"Last I heard from General Gavsot, it isn't--it's just running on an extremely low guard capacity," he explained.  "The majority of Gavsot's forces are required elsewhere."

"Why?" I asked.

"That's the worse news," Gus sighed.

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