The Veil – Part 17

Hello, my Freaky Darlings!

How are you today? Did you have a good weekend? I’m still reading Twisted by Jonathan Kellerman. How about you? What are you reading?

If you’ve missed any of the previous chapters of The Veil, you can pop on over here to catch up.

Here’s the latest episode for your reading pleasure.

*

Bael was never one to mix with the legions of demons in the underworld, not even his own armies could tempt him. He hated the smell of rotting or burning flesh mingled with the scent of vice. He far preferred the solitary confines of his tower. It was only the direness of the situation that drove him out into the pit.

Asmoday sat in a dark corner with only the light of a single candle illuminating his table. A young woman, probably a new arrival, draped herself across his lap. The signs of corruption had not yet started to permeate her body. She still looked utterly human. That would change soon enough. The woman tried her utmost to keep Asmoday’s attention, but judging by the expression on his faces, nothing, not even the most experienced of Asmoday’s whores, could distract him from his tumultuous thoughts. Bael could relate.

A long-dead metal band played their hits on the stage. Their ravaged faces illuminated by the ring of fire circling them. They’d made a deal for fame and fortune in life. Now in death, they still had to play for the masses of demons and condemned souls, some of whom had probably listened to their music when they were human. The band didn’t seem to mind, in fact, they even played their instruments with the same vigour they’d entertained their audience with on the other side. Bael had never enjoyed their music. To his ears, it wasn’t music, just a cacophony. He far preferred Wilhelm Richard Wagner, who he noticed glowering in a dark corner of Asmoday’s establishment nursing a beer.

Bael wove his way through the throng of lesser demons, trying not to get their stink on his robes. Asmoday only glanced up from the cards he was shuffling, ignoring the girl on his lap, once Bael stood directly opposite him.

“The situation must be truly calamitous for you to come down from your sanctuary,” Asmoday said while still shuffling the cards.

“May I join you?” Bael asked.

“Since when do you ask permission to do anything?” Asmoday asked, finally setting the cards aside and pushing the girl off his lap. She landed on the alcohol and bloodstained floor with a wet splat. She was still human enough for an indignant look to flutter across her face. Her anger was quickly replaced by fear when she saw the look in every one of Asmoday’s six eyes. She scampered away. Her naked body disappeared into the crowd.

“The thinning of The Veil warrants it,” Bael said as he took a seat opposite Asmoday.

He tried not to recoil in disgust when his fingers touched the sticky surface of the table. He didn’t want to dwell on what sorts of liquids had been spilt. He doubted it was just alcohol. Asmoday laughed at Bael’s discomfort.

“Worlds are colliding,” Bael said as a dry Martini with two olives appeared in front of him. The tirade he was about to launch into evaporated with his surprise. “Thank you,” he said to Asmoday instead.

Asmoday’s three heads grinned at him as a glass of rum appeared in one of his paws.

“Cheers,” Asmoday’s human face said as he raised his glass and downed it.

Bael raised his drink in turn but sipped it instead of downing it. He’d downed enough martinis in the last few days. He merely wanted to enjoy this one.

“What brings you here, Bael?” Asmoday asked as his tumbler filled with more rum. “If you’re looking for an alley in some hairbrained scheme, you’re looking in the wrong place.”

“I only want your honest opinion,” Bael said, took another sip and smacked his lips in appreciation.

“I’m not sure you truly want my honest opinion,” Asmoday said. “Like our Queen, you have a habit of not liking the truth.”

Bael was about to object to Asmoday’s statement but realised that it would only serve to prove him correct. Instead, he inclined his three heads and shrugged.

“You may have a point,” Bael said. “But considering the situation, we need to put old habits and grudges aside and do what must be done for the survival of our world.”

*

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