Monday, February 5, 2018

Page 1520

((Double Monday -- Page 2 of 2))
Jercash exhaled through his mouth. “Well, this is inconvenient.” He half-turned toward everyone. “Spread out and see what you can make of this mess,” he said more loudly. “Groups of three. Zenia, Liar--you’re with me.”

They all dispersed, leaving only the red-haired woman with the briefcase, Germal, and Germal’s reaper, Nerovoy.

To Jercash’s eyes, the reaper was a simple plastic bag, fluttering noiselessly through the air. It was a far cry from the skeletal phantasms that he perceived them as in his youth.

They made their way toward the carved-out heart of the town, not particularly bothered by all the bodies around. Jercash could sense that they were certainly not pretending to be dead, as none of them had souls--nor were there any souls lingering around, waiting to be ferried.

“It looks like the aftermath of a hurricane,” said Germal, “but Kavia doesn’t get such weather.”

“Yeah, it was probably one or more of our eager young guns,” said Jercash. “Kids these days.”

Perhaps it was the work of Hada,’ said Nerovoy.

Jercash knew the reaper was probably joking, but he didn’t see much point in gracing that with a response. The God of Storms was not likely to have suddenly started existing. More plausibly, it was someone trying to feed an aberration, though he kept that guess to himself, in case it proved wrong later.

“You never told us what you planned to do here,” said Germal.

“Yes, and there was a reason for that,” said Jercash plainly. “I don’t know you, and they call you the Liar of Lyste. When I combine those two facts, I’ve got myself a paranoia sandwich.”

“I see,” said Germal. “I thought I would have your trust implicitly, as I have Gohvis’.”

Jercash snickered. “Gohvis doesn’t trust you. And if you think he does, you’re a fool.” He stopped walking in order to spin around and put his face right up to Germal’s. “Which begs the question. Are you a fool? Or are you lying to me?”

Germal met his gaze steadily, not balking, but not saying anything, either.

Jercash merely waited. He deliberately chose not to pressure him with his soul. He wanted Germal’s response to be of the man’s own choosing. In a way, that would be more informative than trying to coerce the truth out of him.

That, and he wasn’t entirely sure that such a tactic would work on this person. There was just something about him that gave Jercash that impression. Maybe it was the horn. Right in the middle of the guy’s forehead? And the way it curved ever so slightly to the left?

So weird.

Jercash didn’t like it much, and he normally enjoyed creepy things.

“...You are right, sir,” said Germal. “I was lying.”

Jercash laughed and turned away again. “There, you see? You really do deserve that name.”

“I do apologize, sir,” said Germal, sounding genuinely ashamed now. “I wasn’t thinking.”

Jercash didn’t really care, either way. It wasn’t the first time he’d been lied to by a supposed ally, and it wouldn’t be the last.

He meant no disrespect,’ said Nerovoy. ‘It’s a compulsion of his. Sometimes, he simply can’t help himself.’ He shot a glance at Germal. ‘It can be a real problem, when he’s not careful.

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