Deprivation, Part 7.

The afternoon passed slowly, as Devin completed the inscribing, spell-setting, and carving of his stake.  Allistair had fortunately not made a pest of himself, and had spent most of the time reading a chapter of astrology in one of Devin’s borrowed books while scribbling birth charts or some such – Devin wasn’t quite sure what the circular diagrams were – on several sheets of paper.  From the remarks the vampire had made at their first meeting, and the swiftness with which he drew his little charts, Devin figured that he was a practiced student of star-reading.

Well, to each his own, the mage thought to himself.  Keeps him out of my hair, anyway.

There was something nice, he had to admit, about working in companionable silence with someone.  He had not done so since his master had been killed, and he had missed the presence of other humans sharing in quiet scholarship.  Of course, the dynamic between Devin and Levalier was completely different than the one between Devin and Allistair...  But for the purposes of quiet study, those differences were not really apparent.

As Devin was doing a final sanding of the wooden stake, his companion seemed to finish his tabulation and set down his pencil with a pleased sound.  The mage looked up at him curiously.  “What is all that?” he asked with his typical tact, waving a hand at the various pieces of paper.

Allistair grinned smugly.  “Oh, not much.  I’ve got you figured out,” he said off-handedly, ostentatiously straightening his stack of papers.

“...’Figured out’?”  Devin felt himself growing irritated, and clamped down on that instinctive response to the vampire’s needling.  Allistair was only teasing him; no need to waste energy getting angry about it.

“Aye.  I’d already guessed, when we first met, that you were a Scorpio,” Allistair explained, “so I thought I’d try to extrapolate a little more.  I determined from your general outlook that you must be an early Scorpio, so that would put your birthday in late October.   Given your intensity in your undertakings, your desire for solitude, and the way you constantly try to suppress your emotions... I estimate your birthday as October 27th.  How’s that?”

Devin did not have to tell the vampire that his deduction was correct; his own dumbfounded expression probably told all.  How on earth could someone figure out all of that just from his personality and some star-charts?

There was just one problem, however.  “That’s... really slick,” the mage acknowledged, “but I have no idea when my real birthday is.  The 27th is the day I was adopted.”

“Oh!”  Allistair regarded him curiously for a moment, digesting that new piece of information, but then shrugged, smiling slightly.  “Perhaps that was the beginning of a new life for you?”

“...It was,” Devin admitted, looking at the vampire suspiciously, “but I find it hard to believe your tables and charts can account for that.”

“Ah, but remember, it is the heavens that shape your existence, not the other way around,” the man replied with mock-seriousness.  “The signs that marked that day became the signs of the beginning of your life, regardless of the fact that it was not the day of your physical birth.  You’ve been living under those signs ever since.”

“Huh.”  Devin shook his head.  “It’s all too esoteric for me.”

“That, coming from an expert in one of the most obscure fields of magic?”  The baritone chuckle was accompanied by Luciel’s sudden materialization next to the table.  “Honestly, Allistair, I had no idea astrology had come so far.”  

“Since the Babylonians, you mean?” Devin said with a little snort.

“Well, yes.  I stopped paying attention to divination after the Oracles left Delphi.  I mean, really.  There was nothing to top that coming down the pipe any time soon...”  Luciel shrugged with mild indifference, then smiled at Allistair’s awed expression.  “I’m not showing my age yet, am I?”

“Of course not,” the vampire agreed with a hint of uncertainty.  “But... you saw Babylon...?”

“Oh, I’ve been around since the time of the Assyrians,” Luciel said airily, as if it were no great matter.  Of course, for an immortal creature, it probably wasn’t.

Nevertheless, Allistair looked suitably impressed.  Idly, Devin wondered if there were any vampires who had lived so long.  If there were, how many victims would they have killed in six thousand years...?  How many “children” would they have created?

If it weren’t for the possibility of anomalies like Allistair, the mage might well have added vampires to his private list of supernatural creatures that needed to be evicted from the Physical Plane entirely.

“Do you ever... get tired of living?” Allistair was asking the angel, his voice solemn.

“My word, no, Allistair.  Watching people is endlessly fascinating.”  Luciel smiled broadly, stretching the pale scars on his cheek.  “With humans around, the entertainment never stops!”  He grinned slyly at his mildly offended protégé.

Allistair looked thoughtful, but said nothing further.  Personally, Devin couldn’t imagine being born as a human, expecting to walk the typical path of mortality, and suddenly being granted everlasting life.  The thought of leaving behind... everything... as time marched on was distinctly depressing.  For the first time, he wondered if that was the reason for the general tendency of long-lived sorcerers, like his teacher Levalier, to withdraw from society and lose themselves in research.  Knowledge and lore never died, never faded...

“What are you thinking so intently about?” Allistair asked softly, planting his elbow on the table and resting his cheek on his hand.

The mage shrugged, not wishing to share his thoughts and get dragged into discussion of such a disheartening topic.  “Nothing much.  ‘S getting dark.  Trying to think of a strategy.”   Indeed, the sun had already slipped into the trees, and the sky towards the west was turning interesting shades of orange and pink.  “Have any ideas?”

“Not really, since we can’t make him come to us,” the vampire admitted with a little frown.  “Really, the only thing I can think of is using myself as bait to lure him out, where you can do your work.”  He looked pointedly at the completed stake.

“Heh, that’s pretty much how I found you,” Devin replied with a smirk.  “Using myself as bait, that is.”

Allistair smiled ruefully.  “Well, you were in no real danger from me, and I guess you knew that... but Jason is dangerous to both of us.  If he knows I’m with you, he might be expecting such a trap.”

“Hrm, true enough,” Devin grumbled.  “But how else can we—”

Still standing next to Devin, Luciel made a startled sound and disappeared, leaving the two men looking at each other with expressions of concern.

“Did he sense Jason?” Allistair asked.

“Not sure what that was, but I think if it were just him noticing Jason’s presence, he would have told us before blinking out like that.  There could be trouble.”

Before Allistair could reply, Luciel reappeared, an uncharacteristic scowl on his face.  “Bad news, Devin.”

“Joy,” the mage sighed, sounding resigned.  “Hit me.”

“I found Jason, right enough, because his guardian called me—”

Guardian?  What the hell?” Devin groaned.

“I don’t remember him having a familiar, and... I think I would have been able to see it,” Allistair put in, bemused.

“She may not have been with your maker at that point,” Luciel replied, clearly annoyed.  “She’s a Naga, Devin, so she obviously has more than one reason to help Jason fight you.”

“Hell and damn!” Devin snarled feelingly.  “That’s exactly what I need, a fight with a partnered vampire mage.”

“What exactly is the problem?” Allistair asked cautiously, wary of Devin’s sudden mood shift.

“Your maker has a demon helping him,” Luciel said tersely.  “She can feed him magical energy, so he won’t tire in a mage-duel.  She also just happens to be from a clan whose leader Devin banished not too long ago.”

“Not much chance of a coincidence there, then?” the vampire said more than asked.

“Not bloody likely,” Devin growled.  “Can you handle her, Luciel?”

“It seems like she’s an ambitious youngster, not a snake like Sikhander, so yes, I think so,” the angel said gravely.  “Going to walk into the lions’ den, then, Devin?”

“Don’t I always?”  Devin grinned at his guardian, then tapped his forehead and looked sidelong at Allistair.

Luciel nodded slightly and moved to the vampire’s side.  “Sorry about this,” he said lightly, “but it’s probably for your own good.”

Before Allistair realized what was happening, he slowly began to fall out of his chair in an apparent narcoleptic fit.  The angel caught him gently to keep him from sliding to the floor.

“I don’t want to deal with the possibility of Jason getting control of him again,” Devin sighed as Luciel laid the sleeping vampire down on Devin’s bed.

“And perhaps you want to keep him safe?” Luciel murmured, drawing a growl from the mage.

“He’d just get in the way, even if he did resist his maker’s control.  I can’t be held up trying to protect both of us, especially if you’re going to be busy with that Naga bitch,” Devin spat.  “So where are they?  Let’s get this over with.”

The angel smiled and shook his head at his protégé’s typical harshness.  “I’ll take you there; it’s a clearing in the woods.  They may be ‘preparing the battleground’, so to speak,” he cautioned.

“Wouldn’t surprise me in the least,” Devin snorted, picking up his stake and examining it closely.  “I guess I’ll be testing this sooner than expected.”

“Like a new sword, christened in blood,” Luciel murmured, turning towards the door.  “Let’s be off.  Don’t want them to get restless and start attacking the locals.”

Devin nodded grimly in agreement and followed his guardian outside, closing the door firmly behind him.


They reached the clearing after a quarter of an hour of walking, with a small ball of magelight guiding Devin’s steps.  He reasoned that Jason and the Naga knew they were coming, so there wasn’t much use in trying to be stealthy.  On the flip side of that thought, he was half-expecting to be ambushed on the way to the meeting place, and kept shying at noises in the underbrush around them.

Once they arrived at the site, the mage got his first glimpse of the man who had – quite literally – captivated Allistair.  Jason Garamond had a very lordly bearing; he was obviously used to getting his way in most things, and regarded others around him with more than a little superiority.  He sat on a fallen tree trunk, watching Devin approach with amusement in his eyes.

“Ah, so kind of you to join us, Satha-sur,” he said urbanely, grinning at Devin’s startled reaction to the honorific.  “Levalier’s only student... how very strange to meet you like this.”

Devin told himself that he shouldn’t have been surprised; if the vampire had a Naga clanswoman as a guardian, he would have been able to learn quite a bit about Devin’s past.  Still, the way that Jason mentioned Levalier suggested personal knowledge.  “...You knew Levalier?” he had to ask.

“Ah, yes, we met many years ago,” Jason replied, still grinning at the pleasure of surprising the young mage.  “Corresponded for a while, actually, until he realized what I was.”  He sighed mock-tragically.  “Such bigotry.”

Devin realized that the canny creature was trying to get under his skin; Levalier had in no way been a bigot.  In fact, had he been in Devin’s place, he probably would have been perfectly willing to take on a crazy case like Allistair’s, no questions asked, whereas Devin had had to think about it at length before agreeing to do it.

Not bothering to reply to the vampire’s insinuation, he turned his attention to the Naga standing beside Jason.  Perhaps “standing” was not the right word, since the female demon had taken the shape of her clan’s symbol – from the waist down, she had the body of a serpent, ten feet of scales marked in dark green and black with pale gold on her underside.  At the end of her tail was a feathery fin or crest of gold; Devin wondered if it had a purpose or was simply an affectation.  From the waist up, the demon was a buxom – and very naked – humanoid female, with pale hair that matched her tail-fin.  Her ears were long and pointed in the demon fashion, of course, and her oddly pale eyes were likewise cat-slit.  Actually, Devin had to admit to himself, she had chosen a very alluring form, her serpentine beauty marred only by the sneer on her face.

Azdakhr ul-Naga-sau vesha,” she hissed, grinning nastily in anticipation of the fight to come.

“Bite me, bitch,” Devin tossed off carelessly in reply, not bothering to translate it into the demon tongue.    Abyssal was an excellent language for insults, but he would not acknowledge the demon’s right to be present by speaking it.

“Well, now that the pleasantries are over,” Jason interjected smoothly before the Naga could do more than bristle, “let us get down to business.  I believe that you have something that belongs to me, and if you return it, I will gladly leave you be, and you can get back to your little holiday.”

Devin didn’t believe for a minute that this pair would leave him in peace, even if he did give up Allistair.   “Last time I checked, people don’t own other people anymore,” he drawled.  “Slavery’s been abolished in most civilized countries.”

“Ah, but parents have many proprietary rights over their children, do they not?” Jason countered.

“Only when they’re still minors.  I think the ‘child’ in question has already demonstrated his maturity by leaving home.”

“On the contrary, that is the act of a rebellious child, not a responsible adult,” the vampire replied, seemingly enjoying the verbal maneuvering.  The Naga, on the other hand, was switching her tail impatiently.  “Or, perhaps you have a different definition of ‘maturity’,” Jason continued with an unmistakable innuendo.

Again, Devin knew that the vampire was trying to provoke him, but he couldn’t hide the faint blush that spread across his face. He ground his teeth, doggedly thinking of a reply.

“Ah, it seems the little whore has already gotten his claws into you – or should I say, his teeth?”  Jason smirked.   “Did you let him taste you as you lay tangled together?” he asked, speaking with a mocking poetic lilt.

“If you think I’d do that, you really don’t know me very well,” Devin snorted, regaining his equilibrium.  “I think that’s about enough of the shit-talking.  Allistair doesn’t want to go back to you, so take a hint and get lost.”

The amused expression faded from the vampire’s face.  “Do not interfere in things you do not understand, Satha-sur,” he warned quietly.  “Again, I ask if you will return my errant boy to me.”

“He’s not mine to give, and not yours to take,” Devin snapped, tensing for the attack that was now imminent.

“Ah... then let me demonstrate that might makes right,” Jason declared, standing and summoning a handful of black demon-fire and then hurling it at Devin.

The young mage had been expecting such an opening move, and had his shield in place.  The fireball crackled and spat against the invisible wall of force, than was absorbed into it, the black energy dissolving as it was converted to a less harmful purpose.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Luciel dart forward to engage the Naga.  Just as well; he would need all of his concentration for Jason.

The two mages traded blows for several long minutes, Jason fighting with demon-fire and Devin trying his array of curses against the more experienced vampire.  He had been hoping to hit Jason with a paralysis spell, but the vampire had managed to burn the spell-tags away before they ever hit him.  On the other hand, Jason was having no more luck landing a hit on Devin, whose shielding abilities were already well-honed against demonic powers such as black fire.  They seemed to be evenly matched, but Devin suspected that Jason was holding back, testing his opponent, and was waiting for some opportunity to take advantage of.

The vampire, however, had other ideas.  Devin was concentrating on his shielding, prepared to absorb or block whatever spell Jason threw at him, so he was caught by surprise when Jason leaped forward towards him like a pouncing cat.  The older man plunged through the mage shield – which, after all, was only meant to block spells – and tackled Devin, pinning him on the ground with his superhuman strength.  Devin struggled to reset his shield at this closer range, but Jason beat him to it, placing his hand on the mage’s forehead and casting a spell of silence.   Horrified, the young man felt his mage-sight fade out into blindness, and in the midst of his fight with the Naga, Luciel looked up in alarm.

”Devin?!”  The angel attempted to join his protégé, but interference worked in two directions, and the demon placed herself between Luciel and the dueling mages.

“Perhaps you are better off letting the blood drinker have him, than if I take him back to the ul-Naga,” she taunted him.  The tip of her tail flicked back and forth like a whip.

“Neither of you will take him,” Luciel said simply, raising his scimitar and lunging at the Naga.

Meanwhile, Devin was struggling, both physically and metaphysically, to escape from Jason’s grasp.  The vampire was holding him so that his arms were pinned to his sides, but was taking no further action, seemingly waiting on the outcome of the battle between the two spirits.  Jason was also keeping the silence spell clamped firmly down on the younger mage, who was trying with all his internal power to break the block.

“Such inner strength from one so young,” Jason mused, looking at Devin appraisingly.  “Perhaps I should not be seeking Allistair, but instead, a replacement.”

”A replacement for what?  I don’t do that whole worshipful fawning thing,” Devin growled, hiding his distress at the vampire’s sudden change in attitude.

“That will only make it all the more satisfying when you finally break,” Jason murmured.  “You don’t really understand what I was using Allistair for, do you?”

That little mystery stilled Devin for a moment.  He had wondered what about Allistair was so worth pursuing, from the point of view of a sadistic vampire mage.  “He’s got mage-sight.  You have to have known that...”

“Indeed.  Since his powers are latent, he has the rather interesting ability to store energy, yet he cannot expend it,” Jason explained with a smug smile.

“You were using him as a reservoir?!”  It made perfect sense – Allistair could never have used the stored energy himself, and as a living creature, he had a much greater capacity for holding spiritual energy than an inanimate object.  “But... he never mentioned it...”  As Devin knew from working with Luciel, having power fed to you was a very noticeable sensation.  How could Allistair not have noticed being used that way?

Jason was chuckling in a disgustingly smug way.  “Perhaps not, but if he has told you about his life with me, then I can imagine what he did mention...”

It took the younger mage a long moment to make the connection.  “...You sick fuck,” he breathed.  “He didn’t understand – it wasn’t about psychology at all...”

Even if he had had a more normal social life for a twenty-three-year-old male, Devin would have had a very good reason for abstaining from sex – it tended to drain a mage’s internal reservoir of power.  But if an experienced spellcaster could control and direct that leakage...  If he timed it correctly, the... recipient... might never notice the surge of power – at least, not as something overly suspicious.  No wonder Allistair had thought it was incredible...

“Oh there was certainly some psychological value to it, as well,” Jason explained, “but the real purpose was to store energy, yes.”  He looked at Devin with cool assessment in his hazel eyes.  “Of course, if I were to use a fully gifted mage like you, there’s the problem of keeping you from using that power yourself...  Perhaps a locked silence spell...”

”I’d rather die,” Devin said, very quietly, “than give myself over to filth like you...”  Again, he appended in his head, thinking of Sikhander.  

“That can be arranged,” the vampire said with a hungry grin.  “As far as I’m concerned, Satha-sur, this is a win-win situation for me...”

Before Devin could reply, there was a sharp cry of pain from the other side of the clearing.  The Naga had disarmed Luciel – his sword was lying on the ground several feet away – but Luciel had struck back at the demon with his hand bathed in celestial fire.  Half of her face was now scorched and blackened, beautiful no longer.  Furiously, she lashed out at Luciel with her tail, but the angel dodged the blow as he dove to recover his scimitar.

“They are keeping each other fully occupied,” Jason observed with a grin.  Somehow his fangs were much more noticeable than Allistair’s ever were... perhaps he was consciously displaying them.  “Rather unfortunate for you.”  He looked down at Devin, anticipation easy to read on his face.  “Too bad for Estaya, though; I will not be letting her take you to her master...”

Devin’s inward cringe of sudden fear got Luciel’s attention; the angel tried to step off the Physical Plane and move instantaneously to his protégé’s side, but apparently Estaya followed him; they both reappeared somewhat closer to the two mages, dueling once again.

“Your would-be savior is having a bit of difficulty,” Jason chuckled.  “Just as well.”  He reached down and carefully pushed the collar of Devin’s shirt back away from his neck, using his knee to pin down the younger man’s newly freed arm.

“Son of a bitch... don’t touch me,” Devin grated, a hint of desperation in his voice.  He struggled futilely to break free.

“Give up this resistance and relax,” Jason said softly, turning the full brunt of his mesmeric stare on Devin.  “Surely you know that there will be no pain...”

Immune to those hypnotic vampire eyes, Devin continued to fight Jason’s physical and mental grip.  Looking for anything around them that would help him in his attempt, he heard the sound of an animal running through the underbrush.  Jason, with his eyes beginning to cloud with bloodlust, seemed to be less aware of his surroundings than he should have been, and was taken by surprise when a large black wolf bounded out of the fringe and bowled into him, knocking him several feet clear of Devin.

”Allistair?!” the young mage said incredulously.  How had he broken out of Luciel’s magically-induced sleep?

The wolf seemed to be in an insane rage; he had Jason by the throat, and the older vampire could not manage to fling him off.  He resorted instead to shooting mage bolts into Allistair’s body, forcing the wolf back into human shape.  But Allistair shapeshifted with his teeth still locked onto his maker’s neck.

“How dare you, you ungrateful cur,” Jason snarled, clutching at Allistair’s arms.  Devin finally realized that the younger vampire was feeding on his maker, and what that might do to Allistair’s already peculiar physiology, Devin had no idea.

Feeling that it was past time to put this fight to an end, he drew the enchanted stake from its sheath.  “Allistair!  Move back,” he warned, drawing closer to the two vampires.

Allistair raised his head, his violet eyes blazing with anger and bloodlust.  He held his former tormentor in a deathgrip; Jason looked furious and desperate at the same time, shocked at this powerful defiance from his plaything.

“Allistair...” Devin repeated tentatively, unsure if the man had actually heard him.  He raised the stake as if angling for a blow.

“What have you done to yourself?” Jason hissed at his spawn, struggling to free himself before Devin could close in with the stake.  “You are impure!”

The younger vampire smiled with a viciousness that Devin had never expected from him as he gazed coldly at his maker.  “I’ve found an elixir of life, Jason, and it’s made me stronger than you...” 

”Impossible!  You reek of Aether magic!  How could any such thing make you stronger?”  Jason demanded in disbelief.

”Don’t you wish you knew?” Allistair said tauntingly.  “Wouldn’t you love to walk in the daylight hours, unafraid?”

”Daylight?” the older vampire repeated incredulously.  He turned to Devin, who was watching the exchange in fascination.  “The boy – he’s done something to you?”

”Actually,” Devin said with a hint of bitterness, “Allistair managed it on his own.”  He unconsciously rubbed his neck where he had been bitten.

After a moment of furiously quick thinking, Jason looked from Devin to Allistair in something like horror.  “You fed on him – and now you’re – ”  He struggled once more to free himself, staring at Devin like a caged, starving dog staring at a slab of meat.

”You will not touch him,” Allistair said in a venomously soft voice, jerking the older man’s arms up behind his back.  “You will not taste – or even see – a single drop of his blood.”

”You’re a fool, boy,” Jason growled.  “He’s going to kill you too, as soon as he’s finished with me.  Look at his eyes – he doesn’t love you, idiot child.”

Allistair did not look at Devin, but made a sound of angry denial.  “You wouldn’t understand love in a thousand years, Jason.  Don’t bother trying to talk about it.”

Jason smirked at Devin, though he continued to speak to his spawn.  “I think the one who doesn’t understand is you, Allistair... Do you know what you’re going to do after spending a few months, a few years with this little scrap here?  You’re going to want to keep him... forever.  You’ve already fed on him, haven’t you?  You’re going to want to do it again.  You’re going to Turn him, and then, my foolish little pet, he will hate you, just as you hate me.  He’s a clever boy... I’m sure he’s thought of this already, and he’ll put you down like a rabid dog before you ever get the chance to try it.”

With a hoarse scream of frustration, the younger vampire wrenched down on Jason’s arms, dislocating his shoulders with an audible pop.  “Stop your poisonous talking, you son of a bitch,” he hissed, almost shaking in rage.  “Devin!”

The mage, more than a little shocked at Allistair’s behavior, and quite aware at the reality behind Jason’s prediction, nonetheless was prepared for a final attack.   As he drew back to strike, Jason cried out to his questionable ally.  “Estaya!”

The demon, distracted by the distressed plea, shrieked in anguish as Luciel plunged his sword into her stomach.  “You will pay, Satha-sur!” she shrilled as her material form began to burn away, sending her back to the lower planes.  “The ul-Naga will have his prize!”

”Oh, please,” Luciel muttered, sounding like his student for a moment.  He watched Estaya fade away into nothingness, then dropped his sword, willing it to disappear.

As the angel’s attention was freed, Devin felt the familiar rush of power being fed to him.  He advanced on the two vampires, his characteristic coldness bright in his eyes.

”What happens when the undead die?” he asked softly.  “Where do they go?”  As he spoke, the runes he had carved and then sanded off of the stake seemed to reform in lines of fire along its length.

Fear was reflected in the eyes of both vampires; Allistair looked suddenly worried that Devin might do exactly as Jason had predicted, and rid himself of two problems at once.  The older vampire, on the other hand, looked chagrined to have been brought down by a fledgling and very junior mage.

”Can you do it, Devin?” he asked slyly.  “Have you ever killed a man?”

”Does it really matter if I have?” the younger mage said acidly, refusing to be shaken by Jason’s continual morale attacks.  “There’s a first time for everything.”  Not wishing to drag this out any longer, he stepped forward and crouched in front of the vampires.

”Die as your victims have died,” Allistair said coldly in Jason’s ear, “in terror and without hope.”

”Levalier will be turning in his grave,” Jason predicted with a bitter smirk, ignoring his spawn’s comment and watching Devin.

The mention of his teacher only made Devin angrier.  Without a word of warning, he plunged the stake into Jason’s chest, driving it between the vampire’s ribs to his heart.  “Don’t speak of my master to me, you depraved fuck,” he grated, his eyes like chips of ice.

As the enchanted weapon tasted Jason’s blood, it exploded into effect, combusting in a magic flame that burned only vampire flesh.  “Allistair, get back,” Devin said hoarsely, backing away himself.  The young vampire leaped back from his maker, slinking in close to Devin’s side like a whipped dog.  He watched the magic fire consume Jason with no expression whatsoever, flames reflecting in his blank violet gaze.

A hand fell heavily on Devin’s shoulder, and he whirled to look at Luciel’s somewhat saddened face.  “Go home, children,” the angel said quietly.  “I shall stay and make sure it’s finished.”  

Devin turned to Allistair, who was still staring dully at the sight of his immolated maker.  “Come on.”  Without waiting for an acknowledgement, he began walking out of the clearing, trying to tell himself he had just killed a monster, and not a man.

He heard Allistair slowly turn to follow him, but they both froze at the sound of a hoarse voice coming from the flames.

“You face damnation, Satha-sur,” Jason rasped.  Even distorted by pain, his voice carried an unmistakable note of triumph.

Devin turned, very deliberately, to look at the burning vampire, who had raised one blackened hand towards his opponents.  Luciel looked as if he wanted to kick the man, but he waited for Devin’s reply.

“I’ve been facing it since my master died,” the mage said very matter-of-factly, not meeting Allistair’s astonished look as he turned to resume his retreat.

Behind them, Jason only let out a painful bark of mad laughter.


Part 6 Back to the Office Part 8

Whao, I know this is way too long, but hell if I was going to break a fight in the middle. ;)  The next chapter is correspondingly short... yeesh.

I realize now, as I type this, that nowhere in this story is the name Satha brought up... in case you haven't read "Deception", Satha is the true-name of Devin's teacher, Levalier.  Satha-sur would be "the apprentice of Satha", as Devin isn't really experienced enough to have made a name for himself on his own merits.

I hope the fight scene doesn't seem to go through too quickly.  As you can probably tell, action is NOT my thing... ;)