Fate doesn't work that way

It started with three drunk gods, and one drowning mortal. It snowballed into a quest for destiny with bound gods, sky prisons, mazes of death, and far too many disasters.

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5. Mortals and Demons

He survived the fall. That in itself was a surprise. He’d been falling fast and hard, like a comet from the sky. He was sure he  was going to hit and die in a blaze of glory, every bone in his mortal body broken. A very very quick way out of his punishment. But suddenly, the winds had twisted around him, flipping him upright and slowing his fall, allowing to him to land gently in an alley. He was in a large city, and the girl was nowhere in sight. Great. He’d have to find her before she got herself killed.

He turned to see who’d saved him, and caught a glimpse of a faint outline in pure white. Soroth. God of winds. He’d ridden many storms with Kanat, even serving under him for a time.

“Thank you, old friend,” Kanat said softly, filled with gratitude. “I’ll remember this.” Wind stirred his hair, and then Soroth was gone, leaving him alone.

He turned back and forth, wondering why he’d had to land in an alley. In a city. He detested cities. They clouded the air, poisoning his storms. Out in the wilderness, at least the storms he created did some good, watering plants and nourishing the land. Here, they were worthless.

Still, it wasn’t a bad place to make a first landing. The alley appeared to be abandoned. He could just walk out and act like he’d always been there. Then he’d find the girl.

Naturally, before he could move, his feet were swept out from under him, and he landed flat on his back. The air went out of his weak mortal lungs, and he found himself staring at the sky in disbelief.

What just happened…?

“Who are you?! No, what are you?!” A voice said from his right.

He turned his head, surprised to find it difficult. This was what being a mortal felt like? This… thickness? This was far worse than he’d expected. He succeeded in turning his head, and found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

Well this is going well…

The wielder of the gun put a foot on his chest, which really wasn’t necessary, since he wasn’t going to be getting up any time soon.

“Did you hear me?!” The voice was female, tinged with fear. Could it be…?

“I… heard you.” He let out a soft groan, eyes traveling up the barrel of the gun, to the face it hid. As it shifted away, he caught his breath.

It was definitely her. She looked older, though. How long had it been since he’d saved her life? It felt like a few days. Maybe a week. But clearly it must have been several years in the mortal’s timespan. She was no longer a child. A young woman now.

She had a regal face, if you didn’t count the three vicious scars across her right cheek. Sure, her face was spotted with freckles, and streaked with dirt and ash, but what did that mean? He liked his girls a little rough, after all. The extra features just gave her character. Attitude. He could appreciate that.

Of course, he’d appreciate her much more if she’d take the gun away from his face.

“If you heard me, why didn’t you answer me?!” she demanded. “What are you?!”

So she saw me fall from the sky… he thought. That might be problematic.

“I’m sorry, I was busy catching my breath,” he replied. “Will you let me up? I have a message for you.”

“You try and pull out a weapon, I’ll kill you,” she warned.

“I’m unarmed,” he promised. She took her foot off of him, and he stood up, rubbing his head with irritation. A final gift from the primordials had been to burn the words he needed to say into his head. “Alright. Here’s your message. You’ve already called me on it, I’m not exactly human. Either way, I’m being punished by… other beings like me. Whether you or I like it, I’m bound to you now. I’m forced to stay at your side. I can’t leave you. If you try to lose me, I’ll just end up at your side again. I have to obey your commands. If you die, I’m sentenced to eternal torture.”

He waited for her to freak out. Instead, she lowered the gun, studying him with a new light in her eyes. “You’re a demon…?”
    “I’m a what?!” he asked, caught off guard. This definitely wasn’t the reaction he’d expected. Jinea was probably having a good laugh in the realm of gods right now.

She seemed to take that as confirmation. “You are a demon! Who summoned you?! It wasn’t me.”

“I’m not a demon…”

“You have to be,” she insisted. “Nobody can bind angels, after all. Therefore, you must be a demon. Who bound you to me? No… you said it was the other demons. So you really have to do whatever I say?”

“Within reason. There are certain commands I can’t obey.”

“Such as?” she asked warily.

Kanat spoke like he was reciting lines from a script. “I can’t harm you, or myself. I cannot do the impossible. And before you ask, I don’t have any powers, so there are limits to what I can do. There. Satisfied?”

“My own demon to command…” she muttered a quick prayer of what sounded like thanks. Who was that she was praying to? It didn’t sound like the names of any of the gods he knew.

“Who are you praying to?” he asked.

“You can’t hear their name, or you’ll burn up,” she replied matter-of-factly. “That’s how it works for demons.”

“I’m not a- oh never mind!” he groaned, giving up.

The girl was smiling. “My own demon… well this will certainly change things.”

“Change what?” Kanat didn’t like the way this girl was grinning. What kind of lunatic had he agreed to be enslaved to?

“I’ve been hunted for so long…” she practically whispers. “But no. Not anymore. The shoe is on the other foot now. With a demon of my own I could-”

“Whoa whoa whoa, hold on princess!” He protested. “I told you. No powers. I’m as weak as any regular mortal. So your plans of world domination are just gonna have to wait.”

That obviously disappointed her. She let out a little sigh, then looked back up, smiling again as if nothing had happened. “Still. You have to do what I say, right?”

Just my luck… I get the mortal that will enjoy power as soon as she has it. Kanat sighed. “Yes. I do.”

She raised an eyebrow. “And if you’re lying to me?”

Why would I lie to you?!” he asked, exasperated. This girl was impossible!

“You’re a demon. Demons lie. Here. Pick that up.” She gestured to a small pebble on the ground. Gritting his teeth, Kanat obeyed her order, picking it up.

“Eat it.”

Once again, he obeyed.

This, he decided, is what torture feels like when you’re a god. This horrid obedience. Helplessness. Obeying a mortal, who could make him do whatever she felt like.

“Don’t actually eat it!” she laughed. “Spit it out.”

That order he was glad to follow. He spat it to the side, and it hit the wall with a sharp ping.

“So you really do have to obey me.” She obviously hadn’t believed it until now.

“Yes, so be careful what kind of commands you give me,” Kanat practically growled. He didn’t appreciate being played with by a mortal.

“You said you couldn’t harm me, so stop trying to threaten me,” she replied. “You said it yourself. You’re here to serve me. If you’re gonna serve me, you’d better serve me the way I want you to, or you’ll be punished.”

“Punished by who?” Kanat raised his eyebrows. “I have enough of a free will to stop me if you try to harm me.”

“You probably got a couple angels following you,” she shrugged dismissively. “They’ll punish you if you step out of line.”

Angels?” What did this girl believe in anyways?

“Yeah. You know. Pretty, gold wings, archenemies of demons. That sort of thing. Just be good. Okay, now follow me.” She started down the alleyway, and he had no choice but to fall in step beside her. Where they were going was unknown to him. Did it matter? All he had to do was keep this girl alive until this misery was over. How long would he have to babysit her for? This would get very irritating very quickly.

“So what’s hell like?” she asked suddenly.

“What?” Kanat had been busy daydreaming about all the punishments he’d deal out to those that had landed him in this miserable position.

“Hell,” she said again. “What’s it like? You’re a demon- that’s where you’re from. So what’s it like?”

She was referring to something he’d never heard of before. Did humans have access to multiple realms? This was the first Kanat had ever heard of it.

Or maybe they didn’t. She obviously had never visited this ‘hell’, whatever it was. He considered telling her he didn’t know, but he was irritated at her for playing with him. Who would care if he lied a little to her?

“It’s very nice,” he said absently. “We get quite a party going there.”

“A party?” she raised her eyebrows, surprised.

“All the other demons,” he explained casually as they walked, “gather together each night for a huge festival. It gets really rowdy there. We fight, and we gamble. A lot of gambling. There’s wine too, you know.” He was really getting into his story now. “Did you know that demon wine is made out of the lost wishes of humans?”

“It is?” she was totally fascinated. Time to take advantage of her naivete.

“Of course it is!” he smirked, spreading his arms wide. “We’re demons, after all. What do you expect us to drink, common human wines?! Those wishes lost to eternity are the sweetest.”

“What kind of gambling games do you play?”

“We bet on the fights,” he grinned. Humans were idiots! How did she still believe him? “But not chips or money. Do you know what we bet?”

“What?” she was totally enthralled. She’d stopped walking, and was staring at him with wide eyes. Humans were like dogs. They accepted whatever was told to them. It was almost endearing.

Human souls,” he whispered, leaning in close. It amused him to see her take a startled step back. “In fact,” he continued in a normal voice, “that’s how I got stuck here. You see, in gambling, the more souls you have, the better off you are. But if you’re gambled down to one soul, then you’re bound to that soul.” He laughed. “I’ve never been a very good gambler.”

“You gamble human souls? How do you do that?”

“We have little chips, you see, that contain the soul of a living human. The dead ones are no fun, of course. Each time you give another demon a chip, they shake it around, which affects the lives of the human in one way or another. In fact… I still have the chip that contains your soul.”

“You do?!” she sounded alarmed at that.

“I’ll show you.” He reached into his back pocket, pulling out an old coin that had been there when he’d landed. They called it a dynarr- the coins of the gods. Just another reminder of what he was now. He wasn’t sure what the coin was for, or who’d given it to him. What good would it do him? He held it out now to the girl, flipping it across his fingers.

She reached out to touch it, and he snatched it away, smiling teasingly. “Careful with that. Didn’t I warn you what happens when you shake a soul?”

“That’s mine!” she snapped sharply. “You said you had no powers, you can’t hurt me.”

“Yes, but my powers have nothing to do with what this coin contains.”

“I order you to give it to me.”

“What?!” he said sharply. He hadn’t expected that. He figured she wouldn’t want to have it, but apparently he was wrong.

“If it contains my soul, then it belongs to me. I order you to give it to me, demon.”

“It doesn’t-” he started, irritated, but she cut him off.

Give it. That’s an order.”

He flipped the coin to her, and she snatched it out of the air, holding it up to eye level and studying it. Kanat found his blood boiling.

Serves me right for telling her I had a coin with her soul in it… He shook the thought off quickly. It couldn’t be his fault. That was impossible! It was just her being an arrogant, greedy mortal.

“A coin with my soul…” She looked at it one more time, before pocketing it. “You won’t be gambling with this again, demon.”

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