Crawling out of the belly of a gluttony (sloth?) demon really took the wind out of Corune’s sails so we traveled no farther yesterday. I mean I’m the one that killed the demon and I’m fine, but I won’t bring that up. I dragged/carried/helped her limp off the road and made camp – by which I mean I sat down in the dirt and start drinking from my Flask. With Corune passed out there wasn’t much for me to do other than catalog the loot that had been hauled out of the demon’s gullet. The only thing I learned really is that either the aforementioned demon really liked onyx or alternately that maybe onyx is currency in the Hells. Is there currency on the pits of the damned? Is there an economy? Do demons need to eat and sleep and weed their gardens? For as much religion as people like to shovel around I don’t know much about the Thirteen Hells at all. The religious types really focus on the eternal torment aspect of the Hells but what goes on there? Do demons have communities and book clubs and jobs and taxes to pay? I guess their job is to tempt mortals, or maybe to punish them, it’s unclear.
Why do demons even exist? Did the Gods make them? If so that seems like a real dick move. If they didn’t where did they come from? I’ve dealt with a couple demons now and they’re a curious lot. We’re told that demons are evil desires and thoughts made flesh, beings that feel no kindness, no empathy, no mercy. Creatures with the singular goal of our destruction, body and soul. Which is scary, sure, but people have a tendency to overestimate the abilities of things that scare them. Demons are powerful, some of them anyway, but don’t confuse power with invincibility. As far as I can tell they’re actually riddled with flaws that can be exploited. I may write a book about it some day, How to Deal with Demons the Ela Way, that seems like something that people would be interested in, and therefore pay money for.
One weakness they have, some of them anyway, is that they want to be here. Makes sense, the Hells are designed specifically to be a drag – who would want to hang out there when you can come here and have food and drink and drugs and pretty baubles and lots of people with entrails to rip out? So right off the bat they want something even more than they want to kill you – they want to stick around. Why do you think summoned demons kill their masters so often? They want to get rid of the person that can send them back. This place is a vacation for them, they don’t want to go back to their boring maybe jobs tormenting souls. They want to live and laugh and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. So keep that in mind, they have a motivation, and that is a vulnerability.
Another thing is that for all their power many of them seem to be quite stupid. It stands to reason I suppose, an eighteen foot tall buffalo-demon is made to wreck shit, not to be clever or crafty. I would liken them, some of them, to a baboon with a lit torch in a straw-house. Dangerous? Oh buddy, yeah. But do they even know what they’re doing? Maybe not. Fighting a demon should be your last resort – just keep talking. And how do you engage them? It’s pretty simple actually, because they’re not that bright – an appeal to ego or greed does quite a long way. In addition to torch wielding baboons I would equate them to teenage boys – full of anger and rage and violence but not that hard to manipulate when it comes right down to it. Flattery goes a long way.
And here’s the other thing, even the ones that aren’t dumb are lazy – and many are both. Why would they do anything themselves when they can get a moronic cultist to do it? Or bully a smaller demon into doing it. Julista of the Thousands Blades would annihilate me if she ever got around to it, but even though she has all eternity she can’t find the time. So she tells Gurgolock the Ripper of Buttholes to do it, but he’s lazy as well and he tells Achivious the Lord of Kitten Eating to do it and so on and so on until you’re dealing with a demon-snake tricking a bored housewife into trying to kill you with a poison apple. Which is something that you can deal with. Or if you can’t then demons are the least of your problems. I could go on but I don’t want to give too much away, you’ll have to buy the book if you want to know my eight secret steps to defeating demons. And the ninth secret steps that those fat cats in the church don’t want you to know. Also I’ll probably never get around to writing it, that sounds like a hassle coupled with a burden.
Left with nothing else much to do I ended up drinking a lot more than I thought and kind of passed out last night, and then not walking up until well past sunrise today even though I was laying on the cold, hard, dirty ground instead of a nice bed. Corune still wasn’t feeling up to staggering down the road so we just spent the day sitting there not doing a nothing. Normally I’d give her a hard time about this but she looked like an exhumed corpse so instead I lifted her spirits with my many humorous anecdotes of the old days at court.
“So obviously as it turns out that it wasn’t the soap that was causing the itching and I had the maid beaten half to death for no reason. You know it’s funny the upper class people prefer their ladies to be smooth and hairless but amongst the lower class a woman without a thick bush is reckoned to be filthy with diseases that made it fall out. Hence the expression ‘burnt-ass whore’.”
“That story was disgusting and inappropriate.”
“You said you didn’t want to hear any more depressing stories.”
“Are those the only two choices?”
“Yeah, what world do you live in?”
She shook her head tiredly “Do you have anything to eat?”
“No, do you want some more rice wine?”
She put her hand to her temple “No, I’m already feeling woozy. I think I would really feel better if I had something to eat. Can’t you shoot something with your crossbow?”
“Probably not, hunting isn’t really in my skill set. And even if I did I wouldn’t have much of an idea how to make it edible even if we had a fire, which we do not. Aren’t you an old campaigner out on the trails after justice? Riding here and there and everywhere after the bad guys. Don’t you know how to do that stuff?”
“Well then why are you biting my ass about it? It’s interesting that you mention that because I’ve been thinking lately, you can always kind of tell someone who grew up with money. It’s a way they walk, you can see it in the stride, it’s something that just tells you that they’ve never really been hungry. Not like you and I have been. When you’re a kid and you worry legitimately that you might not survive because your parents can’t hack it, that does something to you, it changes you. You walk in a different way. No matter how good someone is at disguising themselves or impersonation of someone else there’s a difference between someone who always had what they needed and the rest of the world.”
“I saw you in disguise and never knew you grew up poor.”
“That’s because I’m the best.”
“Of course maybe you lied about being poor, you are an awful liar.”
“I’m a fantastic liar actually. The funny thing about that though is that you can’t ask anyone to vouch for me because I’ve deceived them. When you’re a great liar no one knows – it’s like being great at keeping secrets, it’s impossible to prove. I don’t know why you get so bent out of shape about lying anyway. Lying is what gives people hope.”
“Spare me this again please.”
“No, I’m serious. People are told that if they’re good and righteous and they stand up for themselves that things will turn out alright. But they won’t. Being right doesn’t stop you from being straight up murdered by someone who’s wrong and happens to be big and strong and is wearing thick armor and has a sword. People are told that one man with a stick defending his home is worth ten knights on horseback and its utter shit. But you need to tell people that to make them not kill themselves. If you told them the truth, that you’re weak and a strong person can fuck you up whenever they want people would lose their minds. It’s like that crap about standing up to a bully, the reason they’re a bully is because they’re faster and tougher and get in fights all the time. The fact that you’re scrappy and full of courage doesn’t prevent you from getting your ass kicked and your face smashed into the mud.”
She closed her eyes, looking pained “Why do you have to do this? Why do you have to torment me with your pessimistic views?
“Torment? I take offense to that, don’t be so dramatic. What else are we supposed to do? I’m just making conversation I’m not tormenting you”
“You belittle my beliefs constantly, what else would you call that?”
“Your beliefs are dumb. Besides what do you care what I think about it? If you’re so strong in your faith it shouldn’t matter what I say or think.”
“It doesn’t. It’s just irritating. Everything is a joke to you.”
“It’s a laugh to keep from crying scenario, but I won’t go into that because I don’t want to hinder your healing with my bad attitude. Hey, so if I shot a giant grasshopper do you think you could just bite into it and be fine? I mean you can toss a regular grasshopper in your mouth without it making you sick so are the big ones safe to eat without preparation?”
“I have no idea.”
“One time I was out with the Duke and his court boar hunting, well in theory it was boar hunting mostly we were all getting drunk and frolicking out in the woods – you know the kind of frolicking that I mean. Anyway, this beast turned up that looked like a combination of a great bear, a porcupine, and like an armadillo or something which a big spikey tail. It killed all the horses and a dozen grooms and whatnot before it wandered off.”
“Why are you telling me this?!”
“Well if you weren’t always interrupting me I would have gotten to the part where I ate a locust, which is a lot like a grasshopper.”
“Seriously do you have any stories that aren’t horrible?!”
“Well I don’t hear any big amount of uplifting tales coming from your mouth! It’s like prying open a virgin’s legs to get you to say two words!”
“I don’t feel well! I almost died!”
“I almost die all the time and I don’t whine about it!” We both fell into a surly silence for a while “I rode a pegasus once.”
“I rode a pegasus once out by the Scarlands. That’s a happy story.”
“Oh. How was it?”
“It was great.”
“So what’s the story, why were you out there?”
“Uh . . . . so you don’t want me to lie to you and you don’t want the story to be awful? You’re really kind of tying my hands here.”
She sighed wearily “Forget it.”
Funds: 53,775 gold
Inventory: Courtier’s Outfit, Noble’s outfit (5), Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, sunrod (2) Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring, Ring of Disguise, Ring of Jumping, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), map, Badge of Last Resort, Healer’s Satchel, 28 tiny diamonds, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, Ring of Protection +2, Saryah Phidaner gown, Crown of Conquest, signet ring, Stone of Good Luck, Onyx (55), Tankard of the Drunken Hero, Altar of Adariel, Cauldron of Brewing, Censer of Dreams, Bowl of Conjuring Water Elementals, Companion Mirror, darkwood lute, +3 buckler, celestial shirt, +1 Frost Demonbane Shortsword
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, 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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa