Blainey let the blighter fly. It was a tiny orange spec as it whisked through the night—leaving a glowing orange sheen on the waxiness of the birch leaves. Knife in hand, he followed—heart racing. Blainey had sold his soul to the devil for no more than twenty of the little demons. He was down to his last. None, so far, had panned out. He needed to make this one count—needed something to value a soul.
It wasn’t long before he heard the musical chimes of the demon grow louder in the distance. It had found its target. The glow faded as Blainey approached it at the crest of small cliff face. The little being let out another urgent chime before it dispersed into specs of dust on the wind. He tensed and looked around, but nothing stirred.
A twang of a string sounded from below and, ever so slowly, he bent down to peer over the edge. A small fire played shadows against the cliff side. Beside it, a woman smiled at the man across from her as she continued tuning the unfamiliar instrument in her hands.
“Ah, the spirits have decided to bless us tonight.” Her accent was foreign—Eastern from the sound of her heavy syllables and the look of her dress with its interlocking folds. She began to hum as the man grunted and sat beside her. They were young—no more than twenty.
“Coulda been anything, Amora. Maybe even a demon.” The man shrugged in a playful way. He looked like Blainey. Light hair with eyes that reflected dark against the firelight.
“It was the blessing song.” Her voice was firm “We, my love, have been blessed. So the stories say.”
“Stories,” He laughed and put an arm fondly around her “won’t protect you from the night.”
“They are worth more than all of my homeland. For they connect us to God: The Creator of creation itself.” She smirked as she put a finger to his lips, leaned in, then poked his side with great speed. He yelped and quickly enveloped her in his arms. A soft moment lingered before their laughter echoed through the night.
Blainey leaned forward watching as the pit in his stomach grew. He could tell the scabbard of the man’s sword was rough and worn as it lay in the sand. The woman’s clothes appeared to be of fine make, but they were weather-beaten and rather dirty. An eloped couple perhaps? Maybe from a distant land across the sea.
His problem was that once he had met the marked, talked with them, he always lost the will to carry out his mission. One couple had been expecting, a child had offered him shelter, and all the others had been hard working citizens. Never once had a blighter given him an easy mark.
The knife tightened in his grip. It was so close. He could still survive the night—this nightmare. He could still save himself from the hell he had sold himself into and come out all the richer for it. He had let the others go. What were two lives against the eighteen he had saved?
They laughed and in that moment he felt like he had aged 100 years.
Sweat trickled down the side of his face; and then, he moved.
Later that night, Blainey lay under the stars and waited—debating the decision. What were two lives against one that could potentially be eternal? That is what he had wanted, wasn’t it? He dreaded the answer as the night’s events played over in his mind. As he watched, the stars began to shift in swirling patterns across the sky.
“So, what have you brought me, little mortal?” The familiar deep voice, neither male or female, sang to him on the wind. Soft light shone as tiny specs of orange light began to appear around his feet.
“Something to make you exceedingly richer.” Blainey’s voice shook, only slightly, but the god did not laugh as he waited. And so, Blainey began to recall. He told the stories of those the blighters had led him to. The demons began to swirl around him as if pushed by a soft untouchable wind.
He gave this devil, or perhaps deity, tales of a world they did not truly know—and one Blainey had only just come to understand.