Friday, April 26, 2013

A Show of Good Faith

I was the Devil, but I got the feeling that I'd just made a deal with an even more devilish Devil.

"So," I said awkwardly to my new partner as I dusted myself off.  "Uh, where do we go from here, Halkkor?"

"Do you have some kind of headquarters we could convene in so that we could begin outlining our reforms in a less medieval setting?" Halkkor asked.  His tone, combined with his fluid wording, made him seem like an English gentleman asking if I would like to retire to the veranda for a spot of tea.  

"Yeah, I guess we can go to my office," I said, entirely uncomfortable welcoming this massive, intimidating, bloodthirsty creature into the closest thing I had to a home.

"Excellent," Halkkor replied a little too pleasantly.  I felt like he was very subtly patronizing me.  We'd reached an agreement only moments earlier, but he clearly knew he still had the upper hand.  Despite the appearance of a cooperative arrangement, we both knew I was at his mercy.  He could become bored of me in an instant and tear my limbs off with relative ease.

I needed some kind of insurance policy.  Or some kind of backup plan.  And in the meantime, I didn't have the luxury of trusting him.  "How do I know that your troops won't continue killing my demons as soon as we leave?" I asked.

"None," he said flatly.  And, as though it were in any way reassuring, he clarified, "None whatsoever."

I sensed that this was the first in a series of important moments in our new relationship.  I worried about setting a bad precedent.  If I let him walk all over me now, he'd continue doing it and I'd grow more and more powerless in his presence.  But if I put my foot down too hard, he'd dispose of me without a second thought.

"Well, I need something," I said as defiantly and as gently as I could--which was obviously a difficult nuance of meaning to squeeze into just a few words.  "Some kind of show of good faith."

Halkkor looked down at me appraisingly.  I wasn't sure if that was a look of newfound respect or a look of developing annoyance.  "What sign of good faith do you expect?" he asked.

I shrugged.  "Maybe you could offer your second-in-command as collateral?  We'll hold him until our planning session is over and you've proven that I can trust you."

He snorted, blasting me in the face with his putrid breath, but it seemed like he was considering it.  "Done.  Niven," he barked, somehow projecting the sound over his shoulder without shifting his gaze from me.

One of the Firstborn saluted and stepped forward.  "Master?" he said.

"Submit yourself to the demons for captivity," Halkkor ordered.

"Yes," Niven said humbly.  He immediately walked over to General Gavsot and knelt in front of him, surrendering himself.  Gavsot gave me an uncharacteristically humorous glance that was halfway between astonishment and relief.  I gave him a shrug and a nod.  Seeming to discard his concerns, he placed a hand on Niven's forehead and teleported them both away.

Maybe I could make this work.

No comments:

Post a Comment