Author Topic: Seeing a Snake about a Sword  (Read 633 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline sully

  • Moderator
  • Wordsmith
  • *****
  • Posts: 113
  • Unemployed Psychopomp
    • View Profile
Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« on: January 13, 2020, 01:42:02 AM »
For Apep

Alistair flicked the hood of his open sweatshirt over his head as the rain began to come down, picking up speed and intensity with every moment. Scanning his eyes across the deserted street, he stuck a cigarette in his mouth and muttered a few words under his breath. A small flame erupted, like a match being struck, from the tip of the cigarette, extinguishing itself once lit. He drew his messenger bag close to his chest and began to walk quicker to his destination. Soon, the rain was in a downpour and Alistair took a moment to stand underneath an awning, hoping that he could wait out the worst of it.

While waiting, he unzipped his bag and examined its contents, confirming that he brought everything he wanted. Inside was a large white paper bound book with the words "Abjuration for Dummies", written clumsily in Alistair's handwriting, a small wood case containing various herbs and liquids, a morter and pestle set made of dark black rock, and a small black book, bound with odd looking leather. Alistair reached in and took out the smaller book and opened it, flipping through the pages until he found what he wanted. On the left hand page was a crude drawing of a humanoid figure with snake eyes and large pronounced fangs. Scrawled on the right hand side was all the knowledge Alistair had been able to scrounge up regarding the individual he was going to meet tonight, which wasn't much. "Snake Demon. Sly. Old? Venomous (underlined multiple times). Possible second sub species?" Alistair read over his meager findings and swore. He was vastly unprepared to fight a demon like this one and while he hoped it wouldn't come to that, he needed the sword. The witch needed to be taken care of and this was the only thing strong enough.

By this point, the rain had returned to a light drizzle and Alistair jogged the last few blocks to his destination. The building was more derelict than Alistair would have assumed, having never visited before and only speaking to his contact by phone. Alistair considered for a moment whether to take a look inside before physically entering the building, but thought better of it. While he knew the shop and the bar needed magical protection, he wouldn't put it past the snake demon to already have magical sensors in his shop. Or any kind of magical item that could do that for him. Taking a deep breath, Alistair stepped through the door and entered the pawn shop.
“Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.” American Gods - Neil Gaiman

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

Alistair - The Demonologist
Archie - The Watchmaker
Butler - The Eloquent Thug
Eva - The Viper
Johnny - The Fiddle Player
Royce - The Party Boy

Offline Black Philip

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 2391
  • A Goat Looking For Love
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2020, 06:04:14 AM »
"You're new," came a pleasing voice.

As the warlock entered his shop, Apep had been doing inventory of his more commonplace items. Watches covered the glass counter, as well as jewelers tools, magazines, and a coo-coo clock. The warlock would see a man in his twenties, or at least that's how old he looked. In reality, he was almost three times Alistair's senior, despite looking the same. He wore an Invader Zim shirt, baggy jeans, and a grey beanie. His beard needed a trim, but looked nice overall, a few stray hairs begging to be plucked. He looked directly at his new guest, and took in a deep breath through his nostrils.

"Was there something you wanted, or just browsing," he asked, returning his eyes to the watches he was tampering with. The PA played loud Arabic Maquim music. Alistair would see the prize he'd sought to claim on a display behind Apep's head. The sword practically glistened, even in the ugly florescent lights of Apep's shop.
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Jake Benny Kyle Lisa-Joe James/Jimmy Tess Tyler Apep Ari Lacy Mithras

Offline sully

  • Moderator
  • Wordsmith
  • *****
  • Posts: 113
  • Unemployed Psychopomp
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2020, 04:14:33 AM »
Alistair bit his lip lightly as he entered the store and scanned the interior. The bass of his brain began to throb and dull pain sliced through his mind as his Pearl activated. His eyes darted erratically around the room, his mind assessing hundreds of different plans using the space in a manner of seconds. After a few moments, Alistair composed himself and turned his attention to the shop owner.

As far as he could tell, the demon looked perfectly human. But Alistair knew demons could change forms in an instant. Taking a deep breath and steeling himself, he replied, “Looking to offer my services. In exchange for an item you acquired recently.” Alistair tried not to look at the item in question, but he couldn’t help it, and shot a glance at the sword. He could feel it’s magical power from here and longed to know how it felt to wield. How it would feel rendering that witch powerless.

Pushing those thoughts aside, Alistair began reaching into his bag while saying “I was told your new club needed some additional... protection. And I happen to be rather skilled at working such charms. I’d be willing to provide continual maintenance as well... for the sword...”
“Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.” American Gods - Neil Gaiman

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

Alistair - The Demonologist
Archie - The Watchmaker
Butler - The Eloquent Thug
Eva - The Viper
Johnny - The Fiddle Player
Royce - The Party Boy

Offline Black Philip

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 2391
  • A Goat Looking For Love
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2020, 11:19:51 AM »
Apep studied the warlock as he spoke, making a very direct offer. Apep appreciated both a man who knew what he wanted, but also knew better than to come empty handed. The sword was worth more than he put forward though, and so Apep decided to see what else he could squeeze from the lad. He smiled widely, and put down his watches and jewelers tools.

"Come closer," he said, crooking at Alistair with a slender finger. He rolled a joint, weed being pulled from a nearby coffee cup.

"Before we move forward," he said, pointing to the blade. "Tell me what that is."

It was a test, but one Apep needed him to pass if they were going to complete this deal.
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Jake Benny Kyle Lisa-Joe James/Jimmy Tess Tyler Apep Ari Lacy Mithras

Offline sully

  • Moderator
  • Wordsmith
  • *****
  • Posts: 113
  • Unemployed Psychopomp
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2020, 01:35:34 AM »
"Magebane. An anti-magic weapon, unlike any other." Alistair confidentially answered, his previous anxiety about the meeting evaporating for a moment as he flicked through his memory and compiled all the information he knew about the sword. If Alistair was addicted to one thing (other than gin and nicotine) it was knowledge and he was always happy to recite what he knew about a given topic. This wasn't an attempt to curry the snake demon's favor or show off. It was simply to share knowledge.

"Forged in the year 1177 by the Knights Templar for the French King to be used against the English forces. A priest, supposedly named Abbot if you believe Frau Nordern's findings, was truly in search of the legendary Excalibur, but found it already to have been stolen. Magebane was forged using steel bathed in holy water and the pommel is shaped from the silver paid to Judas for his betrayal. As the blade cooled, the priest and the Templar performed a blood letting ritual, instilling further power into the blade. The holy magic balanced out the infernal evil of the silver, leaving behind a blade of true neutrality. Any and all magic that touches the blade is negated and absorbed into it. Rumor has it that the blade burns the user as it continues to siphon magical power inside itself. Pretty minor compared to most items of this power. Most have been cursed at least a few times since their creation." Alistair's gaze had moved back to the sword during his monologue, analyzing it's every feature as he detailed its history.

Returning to meet Apep's eyes, Alistair concluded "The blade was presented to the King shortly after it's creation, but was quickly lost during the trial of Joan of Arc. Magical historians have debated for centuries as to how and who the blade went missing with. Some say a lowly servant simply took advantage of the confusion and stole the sword in the dead of night. Others claim Joan wielded it in battle and chose to take it with her to Heaven as she burned on the stake. But regardless of the answer, it seems to have found its way, 800 years later, to your shop." Alistair eyed Apep curiously "May I ask how you acquired it? I've known demons who have lived for over a millenia, but I'd be hard pressed to believe you were there to steal it for yourself. So, simply out of professional curiosity, how did you add such an artifact to your collection?"
“Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.” American Gods - Neil Gaiman

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

Alistair - The Demonologist
Archie - The Watchmaker
Butler - The Eloquent Thug
Eva - The Viper
Johnny - The Fiddle Player
Royce - The Party Boy

Offline Black Philip

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 2391
  • A Goat Looking For Love
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2020, 05:40:11 AM »
Apep couldn't suppress a smile, as Alistair became a Wikipedia article for Magebane. He knew his stuff though, and while Apep's own notes suggested a few contestable points with Alistair's report, the warlock was incredibly accurate. He reached for a step ladder as Alistair asked his own question, and it wasn't one Apep planned on answering honestly.

"I traded for it," he lied. "I gave an Assamaite blood mage an artifact called the Bone Harp. He brought me the sword. I didn't ask where he obtained it. I only cared if it was real, and it was."

"You are correct about the sword though," he validated. "This is Magebane." He pulled the sword off it's shelf and held the pommel with two hands due to the blades weight. "Although I don't believe that bit about Judus's silver. If I had a piece of actual silver for the number of magical items that claimed to be made from Judus's I could shut the shop down today."

Now Apep swung the sword, not without skill, but far from someone who could reliably use it. "What is true though is that it does exactly what you say it does, and it's curse will leave you burned if you use it too much."

Now, he placed the blade on the counter, hands still wrapped around it. "Now, what exactly do you offer? Magical protections is fairly vague. There is only one Magebane, and there are several witch's who can do the work you promise for us. What else have you brought me today?"
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Jake Benny Kyle Lisa-Joe James/Jimmy Tess Tyler Apep Ari Lacy Mithras

Offline sully

  • Moderator
  • Wordsmith
  • *****
  • Posts: 113
  • Unemployed Psychopomp
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2020, 10:57:08 AM »
Alistair stared suspiciously at Apep as the latter finished his supposed account of his history with the blade. The warlock was clever enough to know that the demon was likely holding back most if not all of the true story, but having nothing to pull him up on, Alistair simply accepted the answer with a nod. Besides, he knew a few rituals that could divine a vague timeline of the blade's experience. But no need to worry about that now. He reached back into his pack and began extracting the items. Before taking out the large white paper book, Alistair ran his fingers over the spine, enchanting it to appear as bound with leather, the humorous personally crafted title was no longer visible.

Placing the newly enchanted book, his vials of herbs, and his pettle and morter on the counter in front of the blade, Alistair again met the snake's eyes and said "True, any mage of considerable power could provide such a spell for you. And perhaps they might even settle for a lesser price. But I can offer you two things they won't; longevity and discretion. Most spells of this power degrade over time and require recasting. Other mages would ask for payment for the initial spell then ask you the same fee to come back and touch it up. I on the other hand, will offer my services for the next... let say 10 years, for just the sword now. I also promise to not ask about your dealings nor any specific enchantments or work you may ask of me. I will not work for you or run errands, but will provide any magical assistance to your club I can. How does that sound?"
“Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.” American Gods - Neil Gaiman

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

Alistair - The Demonologist
Archie - The Watchmaker
Butler - The Eloquent Thug
Eva - The Viper
Johnny - The Fiddle Player
Royce - The Party Boy

Offline Black Philip

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 2391
  • A Goat Looking For Love
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2020, 02:34:24 PM »
"I'd say it's a good start," Apep answered, refusing to be shaken down for a one of a kind item like Magebane. That didn't mean Alistair wasn't moving in the right direction though. A ten year guarantee was no small offer. Maintenance and updates being included also added to the pot, but Apep refused to part with something he'd never get back for something as intangible as spell work. No. He needed something that would compensate him for the money or power he might've obtained for it elsewhere.

"Tell me," Apep said with a fair amount of gusto. "Have you ever taken a soul?"

Apep picked up his jewelers tools, and began pulling real diamonds out of the watches and replacing them with fakes. The fakes were good, and would fool all but the most knowledgeable. The sword was unguarded, but Apep was ready if Alistair attempted to take it. He assumed his customer would know better than to risk his life. After all, they were making such progress!
Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Jake Benny Kyle Lisa-Joe James/Jimmy Tess Tyler Apep Ari Lacy Mithras

Offline sully

  • Moderator
  • Wordsmith
  • *****
  • Posts: 113
  • Unemployed Psychopomp
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2020, 03:28:55 AM »
"Around a dozen, I'd say." Alistair responded flatly, his eyes never leaving Apep's. He had been afraid it would come to this. Besides being a trader in magical items, Alistair also knew that Apep dealt in souls, buying and selling them to and from various demons across the city. And it wasn' the first time a demon had requested such a payment for whatever Alistair was after. Biting his lip again, Alistair continued, "The ritual is fairly simple. The two main complexities are keeping the... individual under control until the ritual is finished and a device in which to hold the soul after it has been removed. I have a location where I can perform the ritual in peace, but do not have an item of sufficient power to hold the soul until I can deliver it." The last portion was a lie as Alistair had a few gems perfect for soul capturing in his collection. However, if the demon wanted the soul for himself, he could provide the means to contain it. Alistair wasn't going to part with such items, even for the sword. "Any chance a demon of your renowned has such an item I can borrow?"
“Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.” American Gods - Neil Gaiman

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King

Alistair - The Demonologist
Archie - The Watchmaker
Butler - The Eloquent Thug
Eva - The Viper
Johnny - The Fiddle Player
Royce - The Party Boy

Offline Black Philip

  • Novelist
  • *****
  • Posts: 2391
  • A Goat Looking For Love
    • View Profile
Re: Seeing a Snake about a Sword
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2020, 03:50:32 AM »
Apep enjoyed Alistair's candid detachment. It made their deal so much easier to make, with no shocked faces, or moral outrage. They were monsters, and discussing monstrous things. Apep didn't see the point of pretending it was anything else, and so often he had to. He pandered to people's moralizing, rationalizing and guilt. He prayed on it when he needed to, and assuaged it if money was involved. He could accommodate Alistair's request for a vessel. Soul gems were Apep's specialty. He pulled a a titanium band off his finger, that held a deep red crystal.

"This will hold the prize," he said, assuming Alistair had seen a soul gem before. "And while I appreciate the false flattery, that's my game, not yours. I'm enjoying your rather... practical nature."

Apep considered asking to see this ritual, but decided not to overload their first visit. He still needed to see if Alistair could deliver, and he wouldn't get the sword till he did. He lifted it off the bar and placed it back on the shelf. The meeting was over in his mind.

Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Jake Benny Kyle Lisa-Joe James/Jimmy Tess Tyler Apep Ari Lacy Mithras