March 14th, 2014 • Outside Kotelgrym
Falient watched the red demon emerge from the castillo and stride toward the trees. Malstefin tried to look at ease, but Falient noted the telltale tension in his shoulders, and the way his tail was poised behind him. When Falient was sure Malstefin was alone, he left his hiding place in the tree and leapt down behind him. Malstefin was not startled, and turned to face him. The Demon glanced around, pausing a moment in silent, then shifted into his human form, as he said,
“So it is just you. I wondered if you were really here to capture or kill me.”
“I don’t want to be here for that,” Falient replied, “That’s why I’m hoping you and I can do some business.”
“Is it true? You have joined the Light?”
Falient held his hands out to either side in a gesture of helplessness. Malstefin gave a resigned nod.
“You know that makes us enemies now, by nature of being.”
“I don’t want to be your enemy,” said Falient. “Half my blood is still Dark, you know.”
“The Light is my enemy. If you serve the Light, then you are my enemy. A shame, because you were a good ally. One of the best Demons I knew.”
“I said the same thing about you when Lask asked about you.”
“So that’s who you serve these days. A Rose. You always did prefer the powerful.”
“I don’t serve him, not really. We work together.”
Malstefin gave a doubtful hum.
“I came because I don’t want you to get killed,” Falient told him, “Because I didn’t want Lask to come.”
“What makes you think he could kill me?”
“You’re no fool, Malstefin. I’m sure you’ve heard what he did at Fastovich and Kotherak, and what he has done since. You are very strong, aye, but you never liked taking risks with your life.”
Malstefin gave a consenting nod and asked,
“And what interest am I to your Alcanoren friend?”
“You have something he wants.”
“Me? A Demon, servant of the Dark, has something the Light wants? There’s something new.” The edges of Malstefin’s remaining eye crinkled with a wry smile. “Usually Luminari want to stomp out all trace of the likes of me. I suppose that’s what you’re here for? To get something from me?”
“That’s one way to put it. I’m hoping to make a trade.”
“What does your Rose want?”
“That.” Falient pointed at the metal eye patch adorning Malstefin’s head. “It was once a knife, and as a knife it killed one dear to him.”
“It is a powerful tool,” Malstefin replied. He had fashioned the patch himself, weaving magic into it so it would guard him from magical espionage. “No doubt that’s why you are here in person, negotiating. You couldn’t spy on me or use Luminor magic to just take what you want.” He looked pleased with himself. “Why should I give something so valuable to you?”
“Because I’ll trade you this in exchange.” Falient pulled a knife from his belt. “You know this knife. You’ve watched me work with it more than once.”
Malstefin eyed it and glanced to Falient’s face as he continued,
“I’d wager it’s killed just as many as the one you now wear, and I guarantee it’s done more torturing. You can make yourself another patch, maybe even a better one. It’s a fair trade. You always liked fair deals.”
“It’s fair.” Malstefin nodded. “But how do I know your Alcanoren won’t come back and destroy me for sport? He’s a Darkslayer. It’s what he does. Can he know where to find a Demon like me and let it go?”
“I’ll make sure he does. It might do us good to have a little rapport with someone on the Dark side.”
Malstefin snorted. “Luminari don’t make deals with the Dark. They don’t compromise.”
“This one does. That’s how I ended up with him. Besides, you’re not making a deal with Lask. You’re making a deal with me. I want you as an ally– even if you are on this side. I might get in a spot of trouble some day and need a Demon’s help.”
Malstefin rumbled, smoothing his goatee. “And me?” he asked. “Does it go both ways? Would I then have a Luminor as an ally, should I ever get in a spot of trouble? There is this Demon Iphasto causing me trouble… I might need a hand with him later.”
“Aye,” Falient answered. “We won’t hurt the Light for you, but we’ll kill any Dark thing you need killed.”
Malstefin weighed his words, then said, “I will trade the patch for your knife. I won’t bother you, the Alcanoren, or his alkesh. I will help you on this side if you need it. In exchange, you, the Alcanoren, and his alkesh don’t bother me. If I need help with other Darkness, you will honor our agreement.”
“We won’t bother you unless you do something we can’t turn a blind eye to.”
“And what might that be?”
“Don’t do any harm in Lask’s territories, or to anyone in them. Don’t harm children anywhere. And if you must kill Light things, do it quick.”
“You’ve lost your sense of fun,” Malstefin replied with a slight smile. He mulled over the terms, then announced, “Very well. I will make this trade with you. It may be useful to have a Light ally one day, but know this, Atorcoppel: if you or your allies betray me, I will have my vengeance. I killed many Roses in my day.”
“That won’t be necessary.”
“I should hope not.” Malstefin reached up and pulled off the eye patch, revealing the scarred, empty hole in his head where an eye should have been. He held the patch out and Falient placed a hand on it, offering the knife in his other. The two made the trade and took a step back from each other with a nod.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” said Falient.
“Spin your webs carefully, spider,” Malstefin replied. He made a saluting gesture with the knife, then turned, but paused, “Oh… and let’s keep this between you and me, eh?” The Demon gave him a pointed look.
Falient replied, “Of course,” knowing well the danger Malstefin had entered just by making a deal with the Light side.
The Demon nodded to him, and headed back toward his stronghold in silence.