Friday, April 24, 2015

Getting Information

It was such a broad question that I had no clue how to begin formulating an answer.  What would I like to know?  What facts tucked away in that psychic brain of hers would I like drawn to my attention?  All of it, of course.  But how could I prioritize?  What did I need to know first? 

This thought process was taking place in one methodically churning part of my brain.  The rest of my brain, on the other hand, was occupied by blurting out, "So what's it like being psychic?"
Tithenai curled her dry gray mouth into a frown.  "I dunno.  What's it like not being psychic?"

"Oh, so you were born with it?" I asked, like we were simply discussing her hair color or an unusual birthmark.  "It's not because of some kind of tragic scientific experiment gone awry, maybe with some gamma radiation involved?"

Sylnie cleared her throat meaningfully.

I shook my head as though that could somehow make sense of its internal clutter.  "Sorry.  Uh…what do I want to know?  I don’t know.  I don't know where to start."  I finally experienced a brief moment of lucid thought.  "Oh!  Was Gavsot under some kind of spell or did he actually betray me himself?"

Tithenia put a finger to her lips and rubbed her chin, adopting an expression of deep concentration.  Then she shrugged and said, "Ask again later."

I blinked.  "What?  Are you kidding me?"

 Her face brightened with a hideously playful smile.  "Yeah, I'm just messin' with ya!  I couldn't resist.  I'm so sorry, Uncle Albert.  We're so sorry if we caused you any pain."

"I'm pretty sure you used that one already," I pouted.

Somberly, she added, "But, uh, Gavsot wasn't under any spell.  He was acting on his own free will there. 

More to the point, Sylnie asked, "Can you tell us who the Leader of those creepy hood demons is?"

"Oh, yeah, sure," Tithenai nodded eagerly.  Then she said nothing.

"…Well?"  I grated.

"Oh," she said brightly, apparently unaware that she'd been expected to share her information immediately.  "Yeah, it's Dramien.  The Leader is Dramien."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Choosing a Side

Tithenai let out a long, ragged sigh of discouragement.  "I get what you guys are saying, though," she conceded.  "I'm involved in this mess whether I want it or not.  And I think it's time for me to pick a side even though I do not want this.  Don't you tell me how I feel."

Compassionately, Sylnie said, "We're not trying to tell you how—"

I cut her off with a wave of my hand.  "Song lyric.  I recognize that one.  It's Nine Inch Nails.  She probably didn't really mean that part."

"And you guys have definitely treated me way better than those other guys have," Tithenai continued glumly.  "And you make a good point that you're actually trying to help people.  So, I guess, when it comes down to it, if I have to choose, I'm on your side.  When times get rough and friends just can't be found, like a bridge over troubled water, I will—"

"Whoa, Tith," I interrupted, "I think you're letting this one get away from you.  Bottom line is, you're with us, right?"

She swallowed and bobbed her head slowly.  "Yeah.  I'm with you guys.  Just promise me I can go back to my cave and my couch when this is all over, okay?"

Sylnie gave me stern glare.  She seemed to be non-verbally communicating to me that I had better make that promise to Tithenai or else.

"I don't know when this is all going to be over," I answered gravely.  "But if you want to sit there playing video games for the rest of eternity, I'll do my best to help make sure that happens."

She flashed me an unnerving, sharp-toothed grin of gratitude.  "Awesome.  So…what would you like to know?"

Monday, April 20, 2015

In Demand

Sylnie looked like she was about to agree with me, but as she opened her mouth, the back door creaked open loudly.

Tithenai poked her head into the room.  "I get the sense that you'd like to talk to me," she said.  "I can set your secrets free, baby."

"I would like to talk to you," I said gratefully.  "I need to pick your brain.  I need to know what you know about everything you know things about."

"Yeah, about that," she replied, twisting her eerie features into a pained expression.  "You know how I don't really want to get involved with anything…."

"I don't think neutrally sitting things out is an option anymore, Tithenai," I explained.  "You were kidnapped.  Your psychic abilities are of great use to some very powerful demons, and they're not going to stop trying to use you to their own ends if you just tell them you want to stay in your cave and play Grand Theft Auto all day."

"But how is what they're doing any different from what you're doing?" Tithenai countered.  "You want to use my psychic powers to serve your own purposes, too, don't you?  I mean, you pretend that you're protecting me, but here you are in the ninth, two men out and three men on, nowhere to look, and you need a psychic as your secret weapon."

"But I'm not kidnapping you!  I'm letting you help out of your own free will!" I exclaimed, a little offended by the comparison she'd drawn.

"Also, we're trying to help people," Sylnie pointed out.  "We want your help to stop all the infighting in Hell so we can bring some order and bust open the door to Heaven so we can let all those souls who have already served their sentences free."  I stared at her in awe.  She furrowed her brow self-consciously. "What?"

"I feel like, as a human, that's the point that I should have made," I murmured.  "I'm getting out-humanity'd by a demon."

She clicked her tongue at me impatiently.  "Don't be a bigot," she scolded.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Promotional Opportunity

"Excellent," I said with relief.  It was nice to have finally pacified Onslaw and his rabid insistence on killing Gavsot.

"But you'll draft a Satanic Order?" he pressed.  "Right now?"  He seemed suspicious that I didn't actually want to make him Director of Enforcement but was simply dangling the possibility in front of him to stall for time. 

I almost sat down behind my battered desk without noticing that my padded office chair had suffered far too much damage during combat to have remained structurally sound.  I opted to stand instead only to realize that the impact of Onslaw's skull had put the computer monitor completely out of commission.  I pulled a sheet of blank paper from the miraculously unscathed printer and scrawled out a quick message detailing the change of leadership in the Department of Enforcement, signed it in blood, and ran it through the beaten but functional scanner that would distribute it throughout my domain.

"Satisfied?" I asked.

Onslaw nodded slowly.  "And honored," he added, though he was clearly mastering that particular emotion with ease.  His suspicions were merely diminished instead of completely eradicated, but that would have to do.

"Well," I said awkwardly, "you should probably, you know…go start your new job or whatever.  You have a department to take over."

"Of course," he said quickly, appearing slightly embarrassed.  "I'll…go take a look at things and I'll keep you posted on how everything's going."   He leaned over, tucked Gavsot's head under his arm, and reached for the torso.

"Take good care of that body," I warned sternly.

He stopped and looked up at me like I'd just caught him stealing from the cookie jar.  "Of course."

"Okay," I said, unconvinced.  I wanted to threaten him more explicitly, but I was worried that his allegiance to me was too precarious right now to survive anything more than a pushy reminder.  "Let me know if you need anything down there."

"Of course," he repeated, and a moment later he and the previous Director of Enforcement were gone.

I gave Sylnie a meaningful sidelong look.  "We need to find Tithenai," I said.  "I need to know what's going on.  Like, everything.  Everywhere."