Spy for a Demon

Chapter Eight


Janunir really needed to get past her habit of thinking aloud, talking to herself, and basically saying whatever was on her mind at the time. It was obvious that she didn't know she was doing it-- it was probably one of the side-heads, which were apparently easier to forget about-- but it made figuring out what she was up to much, much easier. Kjolir heard everything, loitering invisibly in the bedroom next to where the bigger beast prowled-- that was one charm Zu paid for, for the both of them, so they could travel as needed without causing a scene-- and he found it fascinating.

True, Zu had never forced him to obey her-- she had never had any need-- but he was aware of the draw she had on himself, Janunir, even Kagoran, Keishaal's manic beast. He'd assumed it was something more like a magical charisma augmentation-- Zu seemed the type to like being held in high regard and respected, if not worshipped, by her followers-- but now that he thought on it, he did agree that it only seemed to affect a few of her many minions. It was foolish of him not to think further on it, before now, but he hadn't done more than be smug that Janunir bore the brunt of her temper and not himself. Stupid. Or perhaps just inexperienced. He would not be making that mistake again.

Knowing what Janunir had seen, though, Kjolir had to wonder just what that pull she seemed to have was. Was she really an infernal? If so, how did that make her more or less authoritative in the eyes of part-infernals? What was she even doing on this world, an alien as much as they were, organizing all these little plots that she orchestrated? There were so many questions... but none of them really mattered if she wasn't actually an infernal. All in all, Kjolir was glad that he'd come back to the complex while he was separated from Sun Soul rather than simply slithering around the camp she was ensconced in and hoping he'd hear something useful despite being "banished", as it were. This was definitely more interesting, and more likely to be important, than any gossip he might have picked up.

When Janunir announced to herself that she was leaving, and going out to get dirt on Zu for that matter, Kjolir slid silently off Sun Soul's bed to follow. He couldn't really see how exploring Zu's private dens would prove or disprove her species affiliation, but he was willing to follow along and learn what she learned, if anything.

Kjolir still hadn't decided what he wanted to do about Janunir. Sun Soul he was already determined to keep bound to him no matter what the cost, as closely as possible: she was useful, intelligent, and their talents complimented each other well. There was much he had learned from her, and much he expected they could do together, though he was still letting her keep her illusions about which of them was the leader of the pair-- for now. He had a few ideas for later, but for now he was still young and he could let her take the lead. There was still more to learn.

Zu he was determined to either somehow impress within her organization, despite his species and physical form, or somehow neutralize to keep from interfering with anything done outside her organization, whether through some kind of blackmail, her approval of him, or simply by avoiding her notice with his own plans. He knew she was too powerful to ignore entirely or challenge directly, but unless he wanted to be the despised underling for the rest of his life-- which he didn't-- something needed to change. Perhaps he could use the truth about her species somehow, if Janunir did, indeed, discover it.

Others he had come in contact with he had vaguer ideas for, but of those he was forced to deal with on a regular basis, Janunir was the only one he still hadn't decided what he thought of. She was still impulsive-- as evidenced by this impulsive decision to investigate Zu's lair-- though more controlled now that she had grown up a bit more, and still impatient, though also intelligent and at least capable of appreciating subtlety, even if she wasn't gifted with it, herself. She hated Kjolir, but that wasn't important; he could work with hate better than indifference. She had yet to really find her niche in the grand company that Zu headed, but she was perhaps still useful somehow, even if just to take the fall for something else....

Well, that was no matter, yet. First, they had a private lair to explore. Kjolir thanked Zu again, silently and certainly in no way directed at her, for the little charm slung between his wings that kept him invisible when he told it to. Sun Soul was never fooled, but Janunir wasn't bonded directly to him, and avoided trying to bridge across to his mind, anyway.

The big, teal beast stopped at the threshold of Zu's personal domain, two tails lashing restlessly-- even imp-formed, she was still three-headed, two-tailed, and winged, though her heads were much more human-like and her tails spaded rather than barbed. It was an odd sight, to be sure.

"Last chance to back out," Janunir muttered to herself, from her right-paw head.

"Never," her central head growled quietly, and she went through. Kjolir followed, admiring the darkened architecture but keeping most of his attention on Janunir and any sounds that might suggest someone was coming.

It was, for a while, an extremely uneventful exploration. The halls were larger and darker, but there were fewer other people about and fewer unlocked doors to peek behind. Not even what looked like Zu's personal chamber-- a suite of an entrance hall with a massive couch-bed in the back for something truely massive, and a human-sized library and bedroom beyond that-- gave any clues as to her species or the source of her importance. All in all, Kjolir was starting to think it had been a waste of time to come down here when they-- well, Janunir, with him slithering far enough behind her that she couldn't hear him-- finally struck something.

"Damn Order knights," said a grumbling voice, and Janunir dove into a decorative vase that only just fit her. "Worse than supernals, they are."

"You must not remember supernals," another answered, closer-- approaching-- and Kjolir slid into a corner, himself, less likely to be trampled upon. "They were worse, believe me."

"I remember supernals just fine," the first snorted, and now he could see them: big, spiny, colorful, glowing red eyes. "I prefer the enemy I know to the enemy I can't predict."

Infernals. Definitely. Kjolir watched in fascination as they walked by. 

"And leave the First? You really are mad."

A pair of infernals. There was no mistaking them for anything else.

"Of course not! I'm as loyal as any of us are, you know that. Sometimes I just miss the old days, where all we had to do was destroy something, and the Fallen would be happy...."

There was definite wistfulness in the smaller of the two's rough voice.

"Don't let her hear you say that," the other, a female he thought, answered.

"As if I'm stupid enough to let the First think I'm dissatisfied! No, I'd not leave here, or her, for anything."

"Well, good."

They rounded a corner, leaving Kjolir and Janunir alone-- and Kjolir full of thoughts. Janunir had her proof, there were infernals here and they followed Zu because she was one of them. And Kjolir had a puzzle-- "the First", "the Fallen"-- to chew on. He left Janunir to her own devices after that, going back to Sun Soul in the frozen north. He could listen and think at the same time, and he expected he'd be doing a lot of thinking until he figured out what that meant about Zu, and about infernals.


Chapter Seven - Chapter Nine



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