Jun 20, 2019 3:25 AM
Sadde in Pact
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Six diabolists form a ring around a diagram. Seven if Sadde counts themself. The diabolist leading the ritual is holding a rod marked with Sadde's seal, the symbol repeated over and over. (Sadde knows for a fact that the ominous chanting and brown robes aren't strictly necessary, but everyone else is doing it. And people who weren't here at the beginning think it has always been this way.)

"Hauri," says the hooded figure with the rod. "Come."

(Nothing happens, and the group briefly looks up from the ominous chanting to repeat that in English.)

"Hauri, mote of Flavros, first bound by Marissa De Roust, imp of the second choir. Come."

"Hauri. Come."


Hauri comes. The room, already dark, seems to bend or distort as if everything is seen through water. Only the imp itself can be seen directly. Not that anyone would want to look at it. Six feet long, gruesome and bloody. There's a wet slapping sound whenever it takes a step or slaps the ground. Hauri is humanoid, mostly, but can't really be called bipedal. It slithers on all fours as much as it walks. Spindly wings unfold from its back.

It has two heads. The smaller, growing out of one shoulder, looks almost human. More like a malformed child's than the beastly primary head that's safely outside the uncanny valley.

When it speaks, the guttural voice from one head and the high-pitched squeal from the other grate together. The same words, but almost incomprehensible. "You have my attention."

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Sadde idly wonders if she'll ever get used to that sort of appearance.

"Good evening." And because she can't help herself: "Has it ever occurred to you demon types that if you prettied yourselves up you'd probably have more takers for the whole 'madness and destruction' dealio?"

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"I am as you see me," Hauri rumbles/squeaks. "Who knows how mortals think?"

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"Mortals do. I could show you the latest edition of Playboy or Men's Health if you're going for sexy, or Vogue or GQ if you're going for classy."

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"Do not offer the demonspawn magazines," says one of her colleagues. "It might accept.

Hauri! We have a proposal for you. Have you heard of the Seal of Sadde?"

It hasn't.

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"So today might be your lucky day!" she says, and explains it in detail.

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"In what way is that lucky, little diabolist? Why would I or anyone agree?"

"Because if you don't," the next diabolist explains, "we kill you."

"Still not lucky," it counters, "meaning that one lied." Its arm slaps wetly across the ground, pointing toward Sadde. "And there are very old rules against calling beings merely to threaten and kill them."

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"I said 'might,'" she says, rolling her eyes. "And anyway, here's the thing, this is gonna replace Solomon's seal, if what we're planning works. This is not a threat, this is an - opportunity to be a part of the new order." Wow that sounded villainous, she wishes she could do a proper evil cackle.

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"The protections are in place, and you are the ones violating them. Your kind put them there."

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"Yeah. They're not good enough."

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"But they exist. You could not kill me even were you strong enough, which you are not. Find a better proposal or you fail to convince me, fail to kill me, and are rent limb from limb."

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"Dantalanos would probably disagree with your prediction, now, if it still had a head to disagree with," she shrugs, nonchalantly. "Anyway, we're going for the flourishing of all sapient beings, here. What would you like in exchange for agreeing to the binding?"

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"So you've killed a stranger to me. Your kind never did like following your own rules.

But if you're down to bargaining," it thinks for a long moment, "I'll agree. Let me go, free to act in the world under the terms of the second Seal."

 

It's not obvious that a Sealed imp is any safer than a dead one. None of the other cabal members bring that up.

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She taps her chin. "You do realise that the Seal's definition of harm includes pretty much anything your best sincere model of the individual would consider harm, yes?"

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She opens her mouth, closes it, thinks, then says, "And I would consider myself rather harmed if you helped hurry along the dissolution of the fabric of reality, or if you caused property damage on your way out of here. I'm sure my colleagues would agree."

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"I offer to be bound, not to obey your every word. But I do not plan to destroy your world any more than I do by existing in it and acting."

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"Right, I know, I just mean that people often find things other than 'physical harm' harmful and that this is a thing you should consider and keep in mind. Knowing that, if you also promise not to take the loophole and go around harming everyone once, I'm okay with this deal."

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"Acceptable," it rasps.

"If we call you again, will you answer?" asks one of the people who will no longer be able to threaten it.

"Maybe," Hauri replies.

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She smiles slightly.

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It's only slightly visible beneath the hood.

The diabolist with the rod pronounces that "on your agreement to be Sealed, you are otherwise free," and Hauri laughs.

It's a horrible clashing sound that only barely doesn't physically hurt. Its two voices talk to each other, hissing sounds unintelligible to the humans, and then they speak together again. "Yes. I am bound and free and will follow the terms of the Second Seal. Now release me." It continues laughing.

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"Don't forget the part where you won't take the loophole nor hurt anyone even once," she singsongs.

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"I agreed to that," it insists. "I will spread your Seal, but not as if it were my own."

The lead diabolist reaches out the rod and erases part of the triangle-around-two-crescents diagram. Hauri steps/flaps/slithers out, still laughing.

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She rolls her eyes. "So dramatic."

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The last thing it says is "your Seal is the best plan I've heard since I don't know when."


Diabolists are split on that.

"That's not the best endorsement" is the first reaction, mostly balanced out by "that was much easier than anyone expected from the first Sealed demon" and "and now we've got one more imp's respect."

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"Not sure it respects us or thinks we're crazy. Given. You know. Its choir."

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