A new season

A new season
September 14 2004 at 12:02 PM
 Harbinger of Death

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 see.”

“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.

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