A dark figure lifted its cowled head to sniff the air, which was more
crisp than in previous days. A tilt at the neck indicated he was
listening carefully. What he did not hear was just as important as any
sound he did detect. No crickets. No frogs. No songbirds. Just the
rustle of leaves in the trees as the wind came in gusts. Yes… fall was
coming, and coming soon. Time to sharpen the scythe.
“Mr. Harbinger, sir!” came a voice from someone clearly out of breath. The
Harbinger of Death would have rolled his eyes, had he any actual eyeballs. He
turned to see Daemon jogging up the path to his garden.
“Yes.” He had been avoiding the hunter for some time, having heard a rumor that
Daemon was looking to become the Harbinger’s apprentice. Such initiatives had
not gone well in the past. The Easter Bunny was still working through it in his
therapy sessions. Harbinger had learned early on that assistance equaled
interference, which led to surprises, which led to chaos. While he recognized
the value of chaos in certain circumstances for entertainment value, he did not
at all value it when he was trying to do his job.
“I have some ideas that I wanted to run by you. Purely for your review, of
course. I don’t at all aspire to your lofty position, myself.” Daemon bowed
deeply. Harbinger was not fooled by this flimsy show of respect. He got all
kinds of crap from the Debs under the guise of deference. He took the scroll
Daemon was holding out and looked at it carefully, however, for he had also
learned early on that making them feel important was the only real way to keep
them out of his hair.
(At least, the only way without resorting to throwing yummy gods and goddesses
at them, and Harbinger would never, ever stoop to that. Those immortals were
always so self-absorbed. Harbinger considered himself above that kind of
immaturity; he felt a keen sense of responsibility and commitment to his
occupation. You didn’t see him walking around demanding offerings and
adoration and temples and such nonsense.)
“Not bad,” Harbinger said, though he raised a figurative eyebrow at the gory
scenes depicted on the parchment. Still, considering who his wife was, such an
appetite for carnage wasn’t terribly surprising. He imagined their lovenest was
nearly as black and morbid-looking as his own home. They would no doubt be very
happy there. “What’s this over here?”
“It’s a combination guillotine and torture rack,” said Daemon proudly. “You
stretch the victim out, and then when he passes this red line here, the blade
drops to lop his head off.”
“I’ve created a wide array of unique instruments of death,” Daemon continued.
“Look at this one over here. The wheels roll and then—”
“Wait a minute,” Harbinger interrupted, straightening up. “What did you say?”
“I said that the wheels here will crush the bones and—”
“No, before that.”
“I was explaining that these instruments of death are—”
“That’s it!” Harbinger rolled up the scroll. “Here you are. Thank you, I
appreciate your valuable input.” He gave Daemon a bony pat on the shoulder and
rushed off to the mansion, ideas filling his skull.
Daemon blinked, unsure of what just happened. He had barely got a word in, but
somehow had made a positive impact. A smile spread across his face. He could
just envision himself in a black cloak wielding a nasty-looking scythe, people
screaming in terror at the sight of him. Oh, the joy! His eyes narrowed as he
imagined the many ways he could dispose of Quietfire, and practically skipped
out of the garden back to campus.