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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

Have You Thrown Your Senses To The War

Khyrisse sighed as she dispatched the last of the ghouls with her cone of cold. On the one hand, it was so nice to be able to use violent spells again. On the other, seeing all these poorly buried undead things clawing their way out of Val’s psyche was really painful. Poor Valende... I wish I could talk her out of keeping things bottled up like this. Hopefully once she gets over the shock of it all, having the weight of the racist issue taken off her shoulders will help. And as for Jack... Khyrisse sighed again, and looked at the bewildered-looking mathematician. Neither he nor Ebreth meant Val any harm, Khyrisse knew; but she also knew that didn’t always help, and she didn’t know what to do about it. Khyrisse didn’t even completely understand why Jack’s clumsy attempt to sacrifice himself for them had hurt Val as badly as it did, frankly. Not that it didn’t tear me up when Ebreth tried to save my life by going to Hell, mind you... but I wasn’t upset with him, and I didn’t feel betrayed by him. Where Val is getting all this anger from is... beyond me.

“Scusi,” said Geryon the Hunter, tapping Khyrisse on the shoulder. “Mind if I cut in?”

Khyrisse jumped half out of her boots. “Crap!” yelled Skitch. “It’s a devil! Do something, Val!”

The priestess snapped out of her black mood enough to start mumbling the words to Protection from Evil. Ebreth went all the way back into the wall, his face completely ashen, and Khyrisse felt her initial panic at being sneaked up on harden into something deadlier. “I’m an impression from back when I was mortal, by the way,” Geryon said helpfully. “So that spell’s no use, and you don’t have to get all bent out. I can’t send you to Hell or anything.” Ebreth went down, shaking spasmodically. “Or, do. I mean, far be it from me to tell you what to do...”

Khyrisse was staring at the huntdevil-to-be with an abject hatred even Val hadn’t seen on her face before. “You’re mortal?” she said through ground teeth.

“Yep,” Geryon said cheerfully. “I was an evil Orandan prince before I kicked off and worked my way through the lower planes. Just your standard villainous human overlord, really.”

“Then can you give me any particular reason why I shouldn’t disintegrate you one internal organ at a time?”

“Well, I could,” shrugged Geryon. “But why would I, really? I kind of approve of senseless violence on principle.”

“Look, guys, he’s not real,” Rani sighed. “Wasting him would be totally useless.”

“But so cathartic,” offered Geryon.

“Save it for the temptees, Satan. Do you have a clue for us or not?”

“Got a destiny for a Mr. Marty Hu. One of you want to sign for it?”

“Whoa, for me?” Marty looked disappointed. “I was hoping my avatar would be someone a little less, uh, evil.”

“I kind of prefer archetypes with an IQ over 60, myself. We don’t always get what we want.” Geryon put his hand on the paladin’s shoulder. “C’mon, let’s go get your heroic thing over with.”

“Hold it right there,” Khyrisse barked. “If you think we’re going to let you drag him off alone you--”

“--would be correct,” Geryon finished. “This is the Hotel, lady. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Then the two of them weren’t there. Khyrisse spat an elvish curse after them and knelt by her fallen husband, fumbling for his hand. “Who was that and why do we hate him so much?” Rani wanted to know, jerking her thumb over her shoulder rhetorically.

“Cause he’s a devil, duh,” Skitch said impatiently. “Isn’t that enough?”

Ebreth punched his fist into the metal floor three times hard, the dull anguished ringing sound louder with each blow.

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