The Devil

Balthezar smelled the tiefling as he entered his room. At first he thought Bede had followed him, but then he noticed the figure in the shadows. “Orest,” Balthezar told the shadow, “so good of you to stop by. Do you have it?”

“Of course. I’m very good at what I do.” The tiefling took a seat at the table in the room, a silver pin of crossed swords shining on his lapel. “This amulet was very hard to come by, as I’m sure you appreciate. I lost a halfling during the trip back. I will require recompense for my loss. The price has doubled, although I brought a gift to ease your loss…an outfit, made of finest cloth, as black as your soul…for the ball tonight.”

This merchant is sly. Dangerous. I like him, Balthezar thought to himself. “Fine. Gold is of no consequence. I’ll gladly pay if it works. If not, though, I will cut off your nose, your ears, your lips, your dick, and then I will pop your eye out of its socket and twist it around so that you can look upon your disfigurement one last time before you die.” (I stole this from Lucan’s De Bello Civile. I’m not a psychopath. – ed.)

“Well then, I certainly hope it works. Just so you know, the amulet was created when a succubus was slain. It absorbed her power. The tales describe her death as especially painful. Are you sure wearing it will not bother you, considering?”

“The only thing that bothers me about that story is that the succubus in question was not my mother. Give me the amulet.”

Orest produced an elegant amulet which resembled two spiral horns intertwined, one onyx, the other ebony. Balthezar inspected it, and then fastened it around his neck. Pain shot through his entire body. I’m going to kill that half-breed. His wings were melting. The heat shattered his face, his arms, his legs. It feels like I’m melting. Then it stopped. Orest stood, aghast, staring at Balthezar. The devil looked past the terrified tiefling at the mirror behind him. Balthezar had transformed into something horrible, something grotesque…a human. “It worked. Good. The gold is in the drawer near the door. Get out, half-breed.”

It took Orest a moment to compose himself, but then his wit returned. “Of course, pot, but please call me kettle. Remember, the ball is tomorrow night. You should have little problem fitting in. By human standards, you are tall, dark, and handsome. Your only competition would be the new Lord Warden, and he’s busy attempting to besiege a mountain, of all things.”

Balthezar examined his new features. Orest was right. He could seduce any woman with this face. There were perks to being the son of a succubus, after all. Balthezar set his sword upon the table and prepared for the morning. He would need all of his talents at the ball. It would be no good to have a sleepless night. I might need my stamina for tomorrow night, he thought with disgust. The things I do for power. After a quick prayer to Asmodeus, Balthezar went to sleep.

The Devil

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