If haven’t had the pleasure I can tell you that you don’t sleep well trapped in a small cage in a dank smelly hole in the ground. Sometimes I wonder of the Lord of the Thirteen showed up himself and offered me either revenge against Duke Eaglevane in whatever form I desire or a guarantee of a comfortable feather bed for the rest of my life which I would take. You never think about a good night’s sleep until you don’t have them anymore. The funny thing is when you don’t sleep you’re never really awake either. More out of boredom than anything else I tried speaking to our demon-hound guardian which elicited another grisly threat. I told the beast I doubted Auraluna would be happy if he killed me and he responded that ripping out my tongue probably wouldn’t kill me. I told him about a drover I knew who learned how to speak pretty well after getting his tongue ripped out. He growled at me for quite a while.
Eventually the mage-lights came on and the elevator deposited not Auraluna and her Halfling pal but a stringy looking fellow with no shirt and dirty patched trousers. His torso was a patchwork of scars, crude tattoos, and smeared dirt and his scraggy half beard was an atrocity to behold. He lowered himself into one of Auraluna’s overstuffed tea-chair with a groan and the creak of joints. After a coughing fit he rolled himself a flayleaf cigarette .
“Sure have another, why not? And hey, thanks for dressing up.”
After lighting the flayleaf with a flame from his finger he closed his eyes and took a long drag, breathing out a plume of vapors before looking me over and responding.
“You’re one to talk, at least I have pants on.”
“I’m being held in a cage, what’s your excuse?”
He raised his hand in a vague gesture to acknowledge the point and then closed his eyes again. Just when I thought he might have dozed off he sighed and spoke –
“So, do you want to sell your soul?”
“That’s a surprisingly straight-forward sales pitch, when you’re talking about selling your soul aren’t you supposed to be more misleading and elusive? In the Six Trials of Daisy Margret it took two acts before Bezial revealed what he was after.”
He shrugged slightly “When you’ve been doing this as long as I have you realize that all that razzle dazzle is just a waste of time. You want to sell your soul I’ll take it, you don’t want to sell your soul there’s plenty of other souls out there.”
I nodded sagely “Sure, you don’t want to seem too eager. Slow play it, that’s a valid tactic. My opening position is no, eternal damnation seems like a steep price.”
“Don’t you think you’re damned anyway?”
“Of course not, why would I be? I’m a good person.”
He opened one eye and looked at me “You think so?”
“Absolutely. I pay my debts, what’s more good than that?”
“Charity, compassion, humility, prudence, temperance, diligence, kindness, etcetera.”
“Sure, that’s all fine, but it doesn’t mean anything without justice.”
“You feel like you’ve dispensed a lot of justice in your life?”
“Of course I have. Anyone wrongs me they pay for it – in the cosmic sense, eternal souls and all that, I can think of no greater virtue. I’m sure when I die that I’ll be treated to ninety-nine virgins or like a harp or whatever good people get.”
“Sounds more like vengeance to me.”
“They’re the same.”
He shrugged ever so slightly and took a drag. “So that’s a no on the soul selling then.”
“Yeah, I think no. But out of curiosity if I was going to sell my soul what could I get? If I wanted Auraluna dead and my freedom would that be on the table? Seems like a conflict of interest.”
“The old lady isn’t my account, you want to sell your soul for her death we could talk about that.”
“Interesting. You know what else is interesting? People of your ilk are always coming down here and trying to buy souls but how come the good guys never do the same?”
“I guess good deeds are supposed to be their own reward.”
“They aren’t. At all. When I was in Duke Eaglevane’s court I used to help people all the time – secretly of course – and all it brought me was stress and worry.”
“What did you do to help people?”
“Smuggled people out of the city, helped them set up new lives away from their abusive masters, shielded women from their violent husbands, that sort of thing”
“Are you saying you’re part of the Foxglove Network?”
“Of course not, there’s no such thing – that’s just a rumor.”
He regarded me for a long moment. “Now why would you lie about that? Unless you want me think that you’re lying to make me think that you are part of the network. I’m not sure how you keep up with all your deceptions Ela, there’s a lot of layers.”
“Not really, I’ve found that the simplest lies are the most convincing.”
“Don’t you know that lies make the Gods cry?”
“What about Altheia the Spirit of Deceit?”
“Okay, but aside from her they all cry whenever you lie.”
“Sounds like their issue to me. I mean what have the Gods ever done for me?
“Meh, I’ve seen everything, it’s not so great. What about this good sir – how about I get you some other souls and you help me out of here?”
He laughed “And you think you’re going to a heavenly reward?”
“Hey if people want to sell their soul that’s their business, I’m just the middleman. Er, middlewoman. Well no, a middlewoman is when you pay four gold and . . .”
He held up his hand “I know what it is.”
“You’re surprisingly prudish for some sort of nefarious backwoods devil-worshipper. I mean you want souls, I can get them for you, it’s a win win.”
“So you think you’ll be fine even with soul harvester on your ledger? Haven’t you killed people? What about that?”
“They were all bad.”
“Does that make it okay?”
“Of course it does, what do you think society is all about? The hero slays the dragon. The hero murders the cruel king. The hero massacres the army of some other nation. All our best stories are about good people killing bad people – our heroes are wading through a river of blood. If you’re bad killing you is a good thing – in fact if you don’t kill a bad person then you yourself become bad. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. I mean look at the tale of the Halfling and the Five Giants – that guy killed a little kid giant and he’s the heroist hero of them all.”
“Interesting theory. How many souls would you bring me?”
“How’s three sound?
“What kind of timeframe?”
“How about a year?”
“How about a month?”
“Oof, that sounds tight. But you’ve really got me over a barrel here. You’ve got me bent over a barrel with my tender . . .”
He held up his hand again “Enough.”
I chuckled “Anyway, I’m in no position to negotiate, ten souls in a month – deal.”
“And if you fail then your soul is forfeit.”
“Yeah, sure, whatever. Do I need to sign something in my own blood or how do we wrap this up?”
I saw Dorehe looking on in horror but I assured her it was fine. I also saw that the demon-hound was awake and alert and looking on. He growled –
“What’s going on here?”
“Oh nothing, I’m just making a deal with this hick here to betray your mistress.”
In a flash the beast was lunging at my new shirtless friend, grabbing him with his weird paw-hands and snapping at him with his deadly fangs. Cursing the man struggled with him for a moment, falling to the ground before there was a flash of magical energy and the beast was banished back to whatever hell-pit he came from.
He slowly got to his feet brushing himself off “Thanks for that.”
I smiled sweetly “You’re the one getting my case for lying all the time.”
He opened my cage – I saw no key, he must be stronger than he looks, but then again he’d almost have to be – and I went to check on Vivian. She was barely clinging to life. I grabbed one of the chairs to smash the Machine but when I swung the chair splintered to bits without seeming to harm the Machine at all. It looked quite fragile, but clearly looks were deceiving.
The dirt bag looking soul stealer rubbed his hands together and said “Alright, so I get you out of here in return for ten souls in 30 days – you don’t pay up when your soul is on the line.”
“Well not just me, I’m taking these two with me.”
“Fair enough.” He opened Dorehe’s cage as well, she ran away from him as if he was the bogeyman and almost literally hid behind me. He then cast a spell on Vivian that seemed to perk her up a little – although she remained unconscious.
“We need some clothes too.”
He sighed and did some more magic, summoning us the most uninspired dresses I have ever seen. Picking through the pile I asked if he had anything better and he snapped at me to just put something on already.
After that he spit in his hand, gross, we shook and the deal was done.
“That’s it, just a hand-shake? No contract or anything? I thought with a soul-sale there was always a contract with some kind of shocking twist in the fine print.”
He shrugged “I can’t even read.”
The next thing I knew Dorehe, Vivian, and I were out on the street in front of Auraluna’s decrepit mansion.
Dorehe looked at me in unconditional terror and shock “What have you done?”
“I just saved your life, how about a little gratitude?”
Inventory: Peasant outfit
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum,
White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler , Alice
Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest
of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna
& Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy
dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the
Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel
Rumors : Exiled noblewoman (Reoccurring), vigilante “Litheria”(Reoccurring), murderous Halfling (Reoccurring)
Souls Damned to the Thirteen Hells – 0/10 (30 days remain)