A Lanceolate Sequel

By James Walker


"Meet you at the Haloes?"

"Check. How's he doing?"

A chuckle. "He's learning...come and join in."

Hanging up, the chuckling Djinn looked around the apartment. It looked nice. Very nice. He'd been careful not to disrupt that. Anything out of the ordinary would have spoilt the effect. He'd moved things around - a little. Just enough to let the owner know that their home had been violated. Helping himself to a cup of coffee, he waited for his attuned angel to arrive.

"What the... oh. Reggie."

Rose had just arrived home, a Gardener in tow. Finding a Djinn in his living room wasn't what he'd expected. Still, it could be worse - and soon would be...

"Hello Rose - pleased to see me?"

The angel tried to manage a smile. "I should be."

The Djinn noted the evasion with amusement - the Seraph was learning fast. "I felt the need to talk, so I thought I'd impose on you. You don't have a problem, with that? I can leave if you want..."

"No, that's fine...I'm glad you came to me! I was hoping that we could talk."

"Oh, I don't want to talk to you, angel. You've been endangering our corporeal operations, you see. Very annoying. We need to plan for the future. But there's something special about not being able to fight in your presence. So I've invited all of the demons who I normally can't talk to face to face to join me in your living room - we can have a nice, peaceful discussion on how to work together against Heaven."

Rose looked at him in disbelief, and then smiled. "Yes, why not. It won't hurt for your friends to learn how beneficial resolving things by talking can be." Silly demon, she thought. Have you forgotten my resonance? Divulge all of your plans in front of me - and as everyone there will know that I can't lie, I can drop uncomfortable truths into the conversation.

"No, it won't will it? No one gets hurt in your presence. Don't you just love that?" Reggie turned towards the nameless Soldier. "I'm sitting in front of you - a demon - with centuries of cruelty behind me. I know thousands of things to do to my victims, ways to torture their bodies in incredible agony, and I can't use any of them. As long as Rose is here, you're safe; safe from every physical agony known to Man - or Angel - or Demon. Completely safe...there's nothing I can do about it."

"Do you feel safe?"

The Soldier was shaking. Rose spoke: "He's telling the truth, for once. He can't hurt you."

"I didn't say that, halo!" the Djinn hissed.

"No, I did. You're safe, protected by the Word of Flowers."

"Yes..." the Djinn continued, in his hissing voice. "I'm safe, too. Very special, that feeling. No one in Hell feels like this. No one. They can all be killed. I can't be. As long as Rose is here...I'm safe. There's no way to get rid of me.."

The Soldier was no fool. He couldn't remain within a few feet of Rose for the rest of his life: true safety meant getting rid of Reggie. But that was impossible; the Djinn was as safe as he was. And the Djinn could follow Rose; he'd heard rumours of the Djinn ability to track people. Reggie looked into the Soldier's face, and read the Fears...

"Actually," he said in a quiet, musing voice, "you can spend the rest of your life within a few feet of Rose."

No fool, the Soldier realised that all that required was for him to die the moment he was no longer protected.

Reggie leaned back. "Why don't you make a pot of tea? Given that we can't fight, we may as well be sociable." He felt happy. Nightmares wasn't about to doing horrible things to people. Death, The War, Fire - they would be helpless here, unable to hurt their victims. But Nightmares - Nightmares was about what could happen. Quite frankly, a defenceless victim was no fun at all, because if it could happen, it would. No false hopes, no dread, no worries - just pain. Quite boring. Where was the anticipation, the dread?

Here - sitting in a Flowerchild's living room, bending the brain of her loyal human lackey, preparing him for a night in Beleth's realm. And watching the angel slowly understand...

"Tell me, Rose - do you speak Helltongue? When demons from all over the world need to talk, it's the only language we have in common. No? Well, I could always teach you - it wouldn't cause you that much dissonance.."

The bell rang. "My fellow demons are here. We will plot and plan in a language you do not understand, and our planning will hurt Heaven. Calling for help won't achieve anything: whether the police or a squad of Malakim: they cannot fight in your presence, so we will ignore them. Your Soldier will either leave - and be an easy target; or stay, and be so horrified by what we are that he will be easy prey when he sleeps."

"And then...you will have failed. For I know what you fear: returning empty handed, having failed in your chance to prove to The Sword that you are actually useful. Were they here instead of you, things would be different. A knight in shining armour: that's something to drive away Nightmares."

"But not you."


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