Monday, December 8, 2014

Brotherly Love

How did demons deal with grief?  How did they cope with the loss of a family member?  I was ready to say a quick "sorry about your brother, dude," and move on.  But Onslaw suddenly became distant and melancholy, like he was starting to coming to grips with Yelvin's death in a very emotional, very human way.

It was unexpected and more than a little uncomfortable.  "You okay?" I asked the big, muscular dark gray denizen of the underworld as he stifled a few sobs.

"Yeah, yeah," he said, turning away.  "It's just…I've had a brother for the last hundred forty-two years.  It's gonna be so different without him."

I patted his bulky bicep reassuringly.  "I'm sorry," I told him.  "And I don't mean to be insensitive, here, but we have kind of an urgent issue to attend to."

"Right," he nodded.  "Making Gavsot suffer."

"Yeah, sure," I agreed.  "And that Leader guy, too.  They're both clearly up to no good."

"Tell you what," Onslaw said grimly.  "We'll go after them together.  Then you can kill the Leader and I'll kill Gavsot."

"You can avenge your brother and I can rescue Tithenai," I replied with a grin.  "Sounds like a win-win."  Then I was struck with a sudden epiphany.

Onslaw watched in concern as my grin faded.  "What's wrong?"

"At this very moment," I explained, "General Gavsot could be marching his troops from the Department of Enforcement through the Department of Assignment to my office to complete a military coup on the Leader's behalf."

Onslaw flashed me a ravenously bloodthirsty smile that stretched wide across his already broad features.  "We better get started, then."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Alliances

"Hey," came an urgent voice.  "Hey, wake up!"

I felt an uncomfortable repetitive pressure against my shoulder.  Someone was prodding me to jar me back to consciousness.  "Hey," the voice said again.  "I need you awake, sir!"

My eyes slid open slowly and I found myself lying on the floor of the same little cave in which Gavsot had unexpectedly betrayed me.  I was completely alone except for Onslaw, who was jostling me roughly.  With stinging clarity, alertness came flooding back.

I sat upright.  "What the hell just happened?"

"I'm not sure," Onslaw said.  He appeared relieved that I'd awoken.  "I came back and found you like this."

"Gavsot stuck me with a knife that had been soaked in human blood," I told him.  "But I don't understand why."

"He also killed Yelvin and Dorvial," Onslaw added with fiery anger.  "I don't understand that either, but I can promise you he'll regret it."

"Yeah," I nodded.  "I didn't see that coming either.  And then he formed an alliance with the Leader of that creepy cult.  The whole thing just doesn't seem like the Gavsot I know."

"An alliance?" Onslaw said worriedly.

"I heard it right before I passed out," I explained.  "The Leader was as surprised by all this as we were."

Onslaw shook his head.  "So it was all the general's idea," he muttered.  "That bastard."

I could feel physical and psychokinetic strength beginning to return to my frail form.  "It looks like we have a common enemy," I said.  "Would you be interested in helping me bring Gavsot to justice?"

"If by bring to justice you mean torture, maim and kill, then yes," he replied soberly.  "Absolutely yes."

I wasn't particularly interested in killing General Gavsot.  He'd been a good friend and a loyal ally for a long time.  I didn't know if he'd acted under duress, been somehow possessed by something else, or if he'd done all of it knowingly and heartlessly, but I wanted to find out before I exacted any kind of immutable punishment.  Sidestepping Onslaw's redefinition of my phrasing, I said, "Wow, you really take an attempt on your life personally, don't you?"


"That," Onslaw agreed grimly, helping me to my feet, "and Yelvin was my brother."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Slipping Away

"Hey!" I said sharply as the general tugged the bloodied weapon from my flesh.  "Ow!"

The reality of Gavsot's apparent betrayal was setting in slowly.  I felt my brain working too slowly to come to an important realization.  I could sense that what had just taken place was shocking in a significant way, but the gears were turning sluggishly and I hadn't processed what I'd witnessed.  Instead, I squinted at him in confusion and whined, "What was that for?"

Gavsot stepped back from me, appearing just as perplexed.  "That certainly had a rapid effect," he murmured.

I slumped against the dirt wall to clear my swimming vision.   The weakening sensation coursing through my body felt very familiar to me.  Even with my cognitive functions in slow motion I realized that Gavsot must have shanked me with a knife that bore human blood.  If this unfolded the way it had when Azraal had done the same thing to me, I'd be unconscious within a few seconds.

Satisfied that I was incapacitated, the general approached one of the masked figures.  The other immediately and gruffly blocked his path.

"I would like an explanation of what is happening here," said the one who must have been the Leader.  He spoke softly, but his voice still carried an unmistakeable air of authority.

"I would like to propose an alliance," Gavsot said.

"An alliance?" the Leader repeated cautiously.  "What would you offer to my organization?"

"I will provide the backing of the full might of the Department of Enforcement," he replied with pride.

The Leader gave a slight nod toward his goon, who immediately afforded the general a little more personal space.  Spreading his arms wide enough to lift the bottom hem of his cloak out of the dirt, the Leader asked simply:  "Why?"

I passed out before the general could answer.