Oct 28, 2021 10:32 AM
some dath ilani are more Chaotic than others, but
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Elias returns at precisely the time he said he would, and starts a summons. "Did you have revisions?"


"No." It's a standard contract. She's read them before. 

            "Did you pick your reward of appropriately commensurate value?"

"Yes." Be a professional, do not squeal and jump up and down. "I selected permanent, non-dispellable arcane sight."

          "That's what I took too," Elias says, almost warmly. 

She's not going to get drawn in to small talk. "Do you want me to tell the kids it's a standard contract? I don't know how many of them will have looked one up."

          "The ones who don't have the initiative to get confirmation they have a standard contract don't have a standard contract."

Carissa reads hers one last time, to double check.


Summoned, he comes.

Ah, Cheliax.  He adores Cheliax.  The contracts are on the bare side of what'll work under Law, and the Chelish take them anyways because they've been indoctrinated to believe that they're going to Hell regardless.  And they're not even wrong; but a slave who can't escape is so much more valuable as a slave, and the contract isn't worth but a fraction of that increase in value, for the sort of soul that Cheliax sends to sign.  They've been given a rather selective history of contracts with devils, and they believe they're doing well for themselves as negotiators.  Devils fight and maim each other for the privilege, to be summoned as contracting devils in Cheliax, because the taste of it is so very very sweet.


He doesn't speak, at first, simply takes the contract and reads it through.

Standard.  For Cheliax.


He turns then to the little mortal.  "And who is this worm who seeks to merchant her soul, already damned, to He who is already its master?"


She feels like a silly little kid. Which is of course the intent, and also basically true, next to a devil.

- well, she's doing more for Asmodeus than this devil is likely to have the chance to. She's going to revolutionize Golarion. 

"Carissa Sevar," she says clearly, and mostly calmly. A human would think she was calm.



(Previously, in Hell:)


The most important thing to understand about a god is that, under almost all circumstances, and with extremely rare exceptions, their attention is not only divided but splintered.

Perhaps unwittingly, perhaps not, Irori has threatened to get the better of Asmodeus in a bargain.

Pride is among His domains.

Asmodeus is a greater and much older god than Irori, closer to the center of all things.  Compared to Irori, Asmodeus's facets are larger; the totality of the gem that is Him, vastly bigger.

Asmodeus is also in many more places at once, compared to Irori.

His decision must be the equivalent of a snap decision, made in reflex, in much less time than Irori had to think.

Yet even His reflex thoughts are vast, and able.

The bargain now sealed between Himself and Irori specifies much, to avoid Asmodeus getting the better of Irori in simple and obvious ways.  He may not direct His church to specially monitor or distrust the mortal Carissa Sevar; nor, through the particulars by which the mortal is given freedom of travel in Cheliax if the time comes to sell its soul, may Asmodeus insinuate anything which works to that mortal's disadvantage, or makes it a target in the eyes of His church.  Asmodeus is constrained in how He may expect the results of His commands to appear, their impacts upon the mortal.  And there are old treaties regarding what the denizens of Hell may say to the living, besides.

There is, nonetheless, a loophole in all that, if Asmodeus is giving an unbound mortal free passage through Cheliax.  The whole affair must look at least a little odd.  The contract cannot demand that these events not look odd.  He cannot set His church upon the mortal, by direct command nor by insinuation and what He knows or suspects His church will conclude; He cannot disadvantage the mortal, cannot work against it; that does leave open other possibilities.

It is possible that Irori, taking longer to think, foresaw this very loophole and that Asmodeus might try to exploit it, if Asmodeus thought the contract to His own favor at all, or regretted it after; and that Irori deliberately forebore to close it, because it is not Irori's way to protect mortals from trials.

If so, Asmodeus will take that play.  He does not know exactly what Irori saw when Irori looked at this mortal, but when Asmodeus looked at it, from His own angle, it did not seem like the sort of mortal looking to flee Cheliax at the first opportunity to take an atonement.

And besides, if Asmodeus does not play this move, then Irori gets the better of Him in a contract.

All this goes through a splintered facet of Asmodeus's attention in a fractional moment of reflex, before that splintered fragment directs a thought to a Duke of Hell who will not be shattered by it; and then goes on to other parts of His business, elsewhere on this plane.  The thought consists of the relevant facts and a statement of intents; greater attention to the mortal details and specifying a precise policy around them is what underlings are for.


"Sign, then," says the devil.  He watches Carissa closely, for any sign of hesitancy or falsehood in the motion.


A human wouldn't detect any. Carissa has known since she was two that she is going to go to Hell, and might as well arrange in advance and get something for it. She takes the pen and pulls the contract over to sign.


He reaches out and snaps the pen from her hand as it is about to touch the contract.

"So eager," he purrs.  "But no."  His (rather mystifying) instructions leave some leeway here, and he is curious about how the mortal Carissa Sevar will react; he is curious of what material a mortal such as this is made.


Not at all, at first, because that's a good default, not reacting at all. Elias is preparing a spell, with the leisurely motions of a combat caster who isn't in a combat sort of hurry, but no matter how much he takes his time she can't outrun him, and -

- Keltham'll notice, Keltham'll be suspicious -

"Is there a problem?" she says a little sharply. "I have a date, you see, so perhaps you'd better point it out."


Oh, he likes this one.  He'd like to rip her heart out, specifically, but that's how it is in Hell.

"Rejoice, mortal, for you have somehow come, however momentarily, to the attention of a god.  Asmodeus has made known to us a tiny fraction of His will, and you are implicated in it."


Elias, she notes with distant satisfaction, has stopped moving. 


There's a lot of that going around, she wants to make her lips say, it's the perfect response, but she cannot, actually, get the words out, or any words. 


"Here is the will of Asmodeus, as interpreted by Hell, to his slaves of Church and Queen."

"Carissa Sevar is not to sell her soul to Hell this day."

"Carissa Sevar is to be allowed freedom of travel beyond Cheliax, as if she had sold her soul."

"Carissa Sevar is to be allowed continued access to her teacher, as if she had sold her soul."

"In matters apart from those, Carissa Sevar is to be trusted, rewarded, and punished no more and no less than she has earned, by Asmodeus's Law."

"Asmodeus's Church need not concern itself proactively with Carissa Sevar's correction, beyond the ordinary course of Asmodeus's Law; but if Carissa Sevar seeks out theological instruction of her own accord, her questions are to be given priority as though she were Asmodeus's own cleric of the fourth circle."

"Asmodeus's Queen and her slaves need not concern themselves proactively with Carissa Sevar's descent into cruelty, wickedness, and the darkness of her own soul; but if Carissa Sevar seeks to indulge of her own accord, she is to be prioritized for support as though she were the inheriting daughter of a Count of Cheliax."

"Do you hear and understand these instructions, slave of Church and Queen?"


Elias highly values his reputation for composure. He values even more highly his ability to only say "yes, I understand" if he actually understands, so he pauses for several seconds, reviewing in his head.




"I hear and understand," he says. 


Carissa does NOT understand!!!!


and doesn't need to. Right now. One thing at a time.


"Here is the will of Asmodeus, as interpreted by Hell, to his slave Carissa Sevar.  But understand and be warned that these are not Asmodeus's true thoughts, only Hell's own understanding of them, passed down from Asmodeus to Duke to Baron to this one small finger of Hell.  Asmodeus's thoughts may not be known to the likes of us, and their truths are forbidden to speak in this world.  These are not Asmodeus's words to Carissa Sevar, but only our understanding of His will:"

"Serve Me well in this world and you shall be raised high in it."

"Remember that you are not Irori.  Do not think yourself likely to succeed in perfecting yourself without divine aid."

"Acknowledge the desires in yourself that have no place in Axis, and accept that your rightful place is in Hell."

"Come to Me in Hell without thought of other choices, as mortals once did in the days before they were cursed with their own wills, and you shall be among the most treasured of My possessions."


Carissa is not so overawed that she forgets to think that among the many reasons it might serve Asmodeus to express such a thing, 'it's true' does not rate particularly high.. 


But she nods. "I understand. Thank you."


He stares at her for a long moment.

"You should be more excited and grateful, little mortal.  Even most Barons of Hell have never come to our Lord's direct attention.  It is doubtful that I ever will through all eternity.  I would dearly like to eat your heart right now."


But, see, if she twitches her face she would start crying, and that would be terribly pathetic, and -

- and being small and reasonable was a good strategy ten minutes ago and isn't, now - come on, Carissa, if you play the wrong game you lose.



- she reaches into the circle. Reaches for his heart, or where it would be, if he were human.


"Did you hear what you just said?" she says. "We'll see who gets to eat whose heart."


It occurs to him, then, though only briefly, that perhaps he ought to be the one who is afraid.  If she succeeds -

He turns from her.  "I hope you fail and are cursed, and that I am privileged to have custody of your soul.  I shall go file the request for it now, in fact."

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