So, I’d love to walk you through how exactly Sirio and Damian managed to get past whatever traps were in that castle, but unfortunately, Damian has a rather soothing voice. Meaning, I might have…drifted off during the latter part of his story. Not that it mattered. You’re caught up now; I got the good stuff, then I was there for the rest - the part where the plan worked almost perfectly.
And now it was time for another one. It’s a good thing I had a whole binder of plans and a devious mind because I always had a good plan at my fingertips.
“Seriously, I think you’ll actually like this one,” I told Damian, who sat horizontally in the armchair with his legs tossed over one of the arms.
“You said that about the last one.”
“Well, I thought you would,” I replied defensively.
Damian gave me a look. “It involved blowing up half of New York City.”
I considered that. “Collateral damage?”
He rolled his eyes. “Well, let’s hear it.”
“I seriously do think you’ll like it,” I replied. “Okay, so here’s the plan…” I told him the plan. Much to my surprise, he didn’t like it.
“You’re going to use me as bait,” Damian asked, although it came out as more of a statement.
“Ehhh,” I replied. “That might be oversimplifying it a bit.”
Damian gave me a flat stare. “You just said your plan was for me to draw attention to myself while you were notably preoccupied for something else in the hopes that Sirio would take the opportunity to kidnap or torture or coerce me.”
“Okay, yeah, I’m gonna use you as bait.”
“Oh, come on,” I replied. “You make it sound so much worse than it is.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Worse than it is? What could possibly be any worse?”
I shrugged. “Well, I could actually be preoccupied with something else rather than just faking it…”
“Yes, because I’m so dependent on your help,” Damian replied sarcastically.
I sighed. “I know you like to pass it off as a joke, but I know that you do need my help. I thought you could just hold him off until I got there at your signal, but if you don’t think you can last a minute or two, then I guess I’ll come up with another plan.”
I was using reverse psychology, and I sensed that he might have suspected it. Nevertheless, he frowned. “Fine. But if you don’t show up the minute I signal, I’m gonna be pissed.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said. “I’m sure you will be. So we have a plan, then?”
“We have a plan,” Damian agreed.
I clapped my hands, and Mr. Skullcrusher raised his head to give me a look. “Well, we best put it in action then, huh? No time to lose.”
We spent the rest of the night ironing out the details, then decided to enact the plan at midnight. Sure it was a little rushed and we were a little tired, but it was much better than doing it during the daylight hours when Sirio was the strongest. The longer we waited, the better chance he had of finding us in Iceland and ruining our advantage. It was now or never.
At about ten o’clock, I stood up. “I have to go run an errand to kickstart this plan.”
“What’s that?” Damian asked.
“Top secret,” I replied with a grin. Damian shrugged and went back to his last minute practice of his powers.
I slipped into the Nether, then emerged back on earth outside a small house. There was a light on in the living room window, and I could see the slightly hunched form of an older woman moving about inside. She and I had never met directly, but we were about to.
Whatever people might say about me, no one can claim I’m not polite. I knocked on the front door. It took a minute, but the woman I had seen through the window answered by sliding a slat in the door open. I could see through the shadows, and took in what I was dealing with. The woman was older, but not elderly, and had a fire in her eyes that spoke of strength. The moment she saw the red of my skin, she hurriedly slid the opening shut and backed away from the door. I sighed. They never even give you a chance to explain yourself.
The shadows broke the lock for me, and I stepped inside the house. The woman was gone. Just as I looked around, something splashed at the back of my neck, scalding hot.
“Ahhh!” I exclaimed, whirling around. “What the hell was that for?”
She stood there with a flask emblazoned with a cross. “Get back! I have more where that came from.”
“Holy water?” I asked. “Seriously? Seriously?”
The woman’s fierce expression wavered a bit. I assumed I wasn’t quite the vicious, animalistic monster she was expecting.
“Give me that,” I said, reaching for the flask that she quickly yanked away from my hand. “Oh, come on. It’s not like it’ll do you much good. The stuff burns me, sure, but it heals in, like, ten seconds. Hardly slows me- aghhh!” This time, it was my face that was on fire.
I could feel the woman turn and run deeper into the house, but she only got a few steps before I wrapped a shadow around her leg and yanked her to the floor. My vision cleared as the pain in my face began to abate, and I walked over to her. “I’m sorry about this,” I said, as I withdrew a length of rope from my deep pockets. Then, I paused. “Actually, you know what? I’m really not.”
It probably goes without saying that I didn’t have any problem whatsoever with tying her up and leaving her gagged in the corner of the basement. Hey, I could’ve killed her, but I didn’t. She should be grateful for the small mercies.
After taking care of the caretaker, I made my way back upstairs, then headed for the second floor. I immediately chose the second door on the left, twisting the knob and stepping in. It was dark inside, but the bed was pushed up against the window, a small sliver of moonlight falling in on the still face of the girl who lay there.
It was time I bring Damian’s sister back to the world of the waking.