Chapter 38

Not Today, Satan

⚞ Z ⚟

The bad news came soon after Valentine’s day. Zack sat in the dining room at the Rileys’ house when Sam who had gone to pick the phone came back to miserably and almost inaudibly announce that Dwight, the happy blond cook from the diner who had hosted them all for Halloween, was dead.

Sam’s quiet words were followed by an explosion of questions. The Pharaohs had been all well-acquainted with Dwight and from what little he had seen of him, Zack couldn’t blame the others for their strong reactions. Dwight had seemed like such a ray of sunshine. And now they heard he had died in an apartment building fire that claimed a dozen other lives. They were all invited to his funeral.

Josie cried in Tamika’s arms, Sam wiped tears away as he related what little he was told to the rest of them. Nakhti’s gloomy look intensified. Sphinx frowned. And Yen for once had nothing to say. He just stared at the opposite wall with a blank expression, seemingly struggling to accept what he had heard.

They were much the same on the day of the funeral. Only Sphinx did not tag along, which was to be expected. He hadn’t met Dwight even once, and the service was crowded. It appeared Dwight had an army of relatives and friends to see him go, and Zack couldn’t help but cry along when he saw Dwight’s parents and siblings weep and say their farewells to a son and brother who could no longer hear them. Most of the Pharaohs were crying too. Only Nakhti managed not to cry and kept his perfect eyeliner as a result.

Zack couldn’t help but smile at how ridiculous they all looked with their running make-up. It was a terribly sad occasion, but he was sure, had Dwight been there, he would have also thought they looked hilarious. Not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable with his inappropriately amused expression, the boy left his spot at the back of the biker group and wandered away through the cemetery. It was pretty much over anyway. And he wasn’t that close to Dwight or his family…

Zack paused, staring into the distance.

To the side from where the crowd of mourners gathered, on the steps of a large mausoleum, a huge figure sat hunched, staring at the ground. He knew it. He knew the shape of that superhuman physique and the almost peroxide blond hair.

Taylor was staring at the ground dead-eyed.

Zack froze.

His first instinct was to run. Since they were kids, whenever Fitela was upset, he lashed out. And when he lashed out, he could do tremendous damage. Zack was ready to hurry back the way he came.

But then a missing piece fell into place, and Zack couldn’t move. And he found himself timidly walking forward, instead of trying to escape. 

Taylor was the guy who had been there with Dwight on Halloween. He had also led the Undying outside when the bikers tried to start a fight in the diner where Dwight worked. Now he came to his funeral and appeared to be mourning him. Mourning a lot. Had Taylor been putting on an act all this time? Was his hatred for gays just a product of his own insecurity? And if so, could Zack blame him after the way he himself had treated Wyatt before coming out?

Zack stopped several feet away from the mausoleum.

“Taylor…”

The blond’s eyes moved, but then focused again on the ground.

“I… can’t say I know what you’re going through… or what was between the two of you. If there was anything at all,” he added quickly, to curb Fitela’s potential anger. But the blond didn’t react, so Zack continued. “I know you hate my guts. And you don’t need my pity or sympathy. But if you just want to… talk or do anything at all. If you think you could use company…” Zack looked at the guy who tormented him since they were both toddlers, and grudgingly offered a hand. “I’m there for you.”

“Fuck off.”

Taylor did not even look his way.

Zack shrugged. He tried. “I won’t tell anyone I saw you. If you ever change your mind, I’ll be there.” Zack waited for a moment, but getting no reaction turned around and walked back towards the gathering around Dwight’s grave.

⚞ ¥ ⚟

Getting fired from his job at the car wash did not come as a shock to Yen. He couldn’t blame them. He had missed quite a number of days and without a doctor’s notice too. In a way, that was for the better. He didn’t really need that job. Working for Blaise paid a lot better. It was also more interesting, and he didn’t have to pay taxes on that. He was thinking of making it a permanent gig, but for now, it was still mostly an evening and night job. And there was one downside to not having a day job. He was left to his own devices and bored out of his mind.

“Nana, can we get cable? I want my MTV,” Yen whined from the couch. “Nakhti has MTV, I want MTV.”

“You don’t need MTV, you need a job, you slacker! Look at poor Sammy, working so hard! He doesn’t have time to watch overly hairy men in tights jumping around the stage with a microphone!” Nana Riley yelled back at him from the kitchen.

“Well, maybe if we had MTV, he could find the time,” Yen grumbled.

He lazily got off the couch, walked over to the TV and started switching through the channels. There wasn’t even a remote in this house, barbarians, seriously. And daytime television was horrible. Just housewife shows and soap operas. It almost did make him want to get a proper job again. But it was so frigid and snowy outside that maybe being at home with shitty television still beat being out there doing something less mind-numbingly boring.

“Nine members of the One-Percenter biker club known as the Undying were found dead in the bar that served as the club’s presently burned down headquarters. The deaths are considered suspicious…”

Yen stopped switching channels. He stared speechless at the burned down husk of a one-story building surrounded by ambulances, cop cars and fire trucks.

A reporter appeared on-screen talking to an unshaven grey-haired guy, who waved a cigarette butt around as he spoke.

“I didn’t see how it started, I just smelled the smoke, smoke and the gosh darn stench, I thought it was some jackass making barbecue on burning garbage, or some teenagers roasting roadkill, turns out it was those guys burning-”

“Did you see anyone leave the burning building?” the reporter, a skinny woman in a big coat, asked, looking a little nauseous.

“No, me figures the guys were dead before the fire, cause there were no screams, no nothing, must’a been arson.”

The camera switched to the lady reporter standing in front of the burned down building. “The police have not released an official statement on the case yet, for more news…”

Yen did not hear the rest of the woman’s words. His brain was doing arithmetic. With nine of them dead now, and three of them dead the last time, that was the end of the Undying. They were all gone.

Yen let out a nervous chuckle. So much for calling themselves the Undying. It’s good that him and the others were Pharaohs and not like Mummies or something.

He sat back down on the couch heavily.

Nana Riley walked into the living room, wiping her wrinkly hands on her apron. “You’ve shut up very abruptly. What do I owe this bliss? You’ve been whining all morning.”

Yen nodded towards the television set.

“Ah.” Nana Riley shrugged. “Heard that one on the radio already. One less source of trouble for you kids.” She went back to the kitchen.

Yen watched her go. Then he hurried to the phone. He quickly dialed the number of Blaise’s home, then dropped the receiver, as he realized it wasn’t something to ask over the phone. That would have to wait for a one-on-one meeting. But if it really had been Blaise, why now? And why like this? Shouldn’t the bikers have come down with deadly flu or lost their souls or go in some other less showy, more voodoo way?

This wasn’t Blaise’s style. Yen frowned. This was more like something the Citizens would do back in the day. But why would the Citizens get rid of the Undying? Had the bikers somehow clashed with their criminal enterprise? He hadn’t heard of the Undying actually selling drugs or anything like that. And as far as drug sales went, he was a fairly well-informed individual.

Yen walked around the hall, trying to come up with a list of plausible benefactors. Then he stopped in the kitchen doorway, lost in thought. His eyes fell on Nana Riley who was happily putting together some sort of overly complicated pie following the instructions from the book Sam had gifted her. She looked perfectly content. She loved the Citizens.

Yen smirked lop-sidedly. “Hey Nana, did you get the Citizens to kill the Undying so they stop bothering us?” He snorted. “Are you secretly the Man? Is that how you stay out of the hands of the law for so long — misnomer?”

“Psh, yeah right.” The old woman gave him a look like he was stupid. She shook her head and focused on the pie, then turned back to Yen for a split second and winked conspiratorially.

Yen gaped at her, but she was again very busy with her cooking. He left the kitchen, a little shaken and not knowing what to think. There was no way in hell anyone would believe him. Even if it was the truth.

Nana Riley was the Man.

* * *

After several days of slacking off at the Rileys’, Yen decided to pay his newfound dad a visit. But Blaise was no longer on leave and, like everyone else, proved to be constantly busy. They barely managed to say their hellos when the phone rang, and Blaise was on the phone ever since. Someone else seemed to have died and now there was going to be a funeral mass. Then it turned out they ran out of candles or something at the church. All evening it was phone call, after phone call, after phone call.

Yen paced restlessly through the ground floor of the priest’s house, trying to kill his boredom. He stopped in front of some shelves with ‘religions of the world’ knick-knacks in the living room. Those were curious, and he wondered what Blaise told people from his parish if they ever asked why he had something like that here, but in the end they provided only so much entertainment. Perhaps if he were in elementary school, he could have had a riot playing with these idols. Yen snorted. It would have been so much nicer growing up in this weird house with the conman of a priest.

Yen could see it now. Holding the wooden figures in his hands, forbidden and thus all the more exciting. Dashing through the old house, reenacting some battle of the gods of who-knows-where, Blaise chasing him, yelling that those were relics. Swooping him up, taking the idols away, telling Yen he’s gotta work on his drumming instead of ruining priceless antiques. He visualized playing in murder basement and climbing the shelves to get to the stuff he’s not supposed to. Best childhood ever.

The biker stared at the idols on the shelf wistfully. It would have been so grand to grow up with Blaise as his father.

The reality of his actual past burned through the happy image like the cigarettes put out against his skin. Yen touched his shoulder automatically. The scars were hidden by tattoos, but the memories remained.

Stupid. Stupid feelings. Yen stormed away from the idols.

What was done was done. There was no point in dwelling on the ifs. Blaise was there for him now, he should feel grateful for that, not mope about the past he couldn’t change. But it hurt. It still hurt. He was so bored, it hurt.

Yen passed the kitchen door, Blaise was still on the phone. Yen went to the trapdoor and lifted it, descending into the murder basement.

He switched the lights on and surveyed the shelves.

Blaise had helpfully labelled things, but Yen felt nothing labelled would sate his need for belated teenage rebellion. He needed the forbidden stuff. He remembered the hidden stash McDollarface had used. After some poking and searching he found the hidden compartment and the vial within.

He wiped the table with the edge of his t-shirt, popped the vial open and made a crude line of the powder with his butterfly knife. Then he rolled a dollar bill and snorted it.

Yen grimaced. He waited.

A minute passed, and he still wasn’t hearing colors. Yen pouted and looked at his hands. They looked the same as usual and didn’t even make him crack up. The only thing cracking was his black nail polish. Maybe he mistook the hidden compartment and had just snorted some sort of cooking spice Blaise kept here, because he used it so rarely. Yen began rummaging through the shelves, looking for other secret stashes.

”Yen, what are you doing here?” Blaise was standing behind him.

Yen jumped a little. “Haha, don’t sneak up on me like that, Daddy…”

He turned to discover Blaise’s eyes were burning purple. Or violet. Yen didn’t know the difference. Or care. Blaise’s eyes were shining in the dim light and that was what mattered.

“Oh, finally, it kicked in. I thought I snorted button mushrooms or something.”

“Which one did you snort?”

Yen showed Blaze the vial he had already sampled.

”God damn it, Yen, this is way too potent to take in such amounts. Why must you be so reckless? We have to get you the antidote. But I don’t have it here.”

“Why not?”

“Because this is for my use, and I would never ingest unfamiliar powders- Nevermind. Just stay in the house, do not go outside. Better yet, don’t move from here. You might start seeing and hearing strange things, but remember that none of it can hurt you, just… just don’t go outside and get hit by a car, alright?”

“Can do.” Yen saluted. Then pointed at Blaise’s face. “You’ve got some funky glowing tattoos and shining eyes, do you know that?”

“Yes, I am aware.”

Yen blinked in confusion.

“Are they light purple in color?” Blaise inquired sternly.

“Yes…”

“Damn it, you took way too much. Just stay here, I will be right back.” Blaise left the basement in a hurry. The trails of glow lingered in the air behind him for a while, and Yen stared at them with his mouth open until they faded.

Yen looked at his own hands again. Those weren’t glowing or anything. How did Blaise know what he was hallucinating? Was that what people saw on this mushroom? Purple glow? Yen looked around, trying to see if anything else was different about the basement at all.

Nope, it was the most mundane basement had ever seen. At least as mundane as a weird-ass murder basement filled with bones, powders and — heh heh — fetishes could look.

So much for the ‘oh too potent’ mushrooms. Yen put his hands on his hips. Well, great. Now he had to be bored to death in the murder basement.

“A two, Horacio,” Yen addressed a small skull on a shelf. “I knew you well.” Nailed it. Shakespeare.

Yen looked around at the shelves. Beyond one of them was that spot where the weird lawyer sat on his ass and played that dumb whisper prank on him. How did he do it? Yen felt the need to know. He went around the shelf and walked up to the area where the lawyer had knelt.

He stopped in his tracks.

It was dark again. That whole spot was dark. Pitch black. Yen looked back to the light bulb. There it was, mere feet away on the ceiling, casting light evenly on the rest of the basement, then seemingly casting less light in this particular direction. Was the light bulb dusty on one side or what? Yen tiptoed, trying to make it out.

Then he heard a whisper behind his back. He turned to look at the darkness. Another whisper came. He couldn’t make out the words. He stared into the dark, trying to see through it, but somehow unwilling to take even a step closer towards it. His rational mind was telling him it was just the floor between the shelves. But his animal instincts said no. No stepping into the weird darkness. So Yen just stared at it.

And as he watched the blackness seemed to bloom, little specks of light danced in it, like fireflies. Or stars. All of them in pairs. The whispers turned into a chorus. Then the darkness seemed to grow. A shape like a hand reached out from it. Multiple hands.

Yen swore and stumbled back into the table where he had snorted the mushroom powder.

From here the darkness looked normal. But he still heard the chorus of whispers. And then he saw the shadows of hands crawling slowly over the floor in his direction, stretching out, fingers bent, clawing on air, like someone was struggling to reach him, but couldn’t.

“Fuck this shit!” Yen flipped the bird at the darkness and ran upstairs. He slammed the trapdoor closed and moved an armchair on top of it for good measure.

“Fuck you!” he told the trapdoor. “Broken fucking light bulb! This is not how physics work, go back to school!” Yen kicked the armchair. Then he felt guilty, the armchair did nothing wrong, if anything it was protecting him from the stupid basement light bulb bullshit.

Yen thought of sitting in the armchair as a form of apology, but he did not want to risk getting fisted by the darkness and decided against it.

There was a knock on the front door.

Blaise was back, thank God. This had gone weird enough. Yen hurried towards the hall. A set of lights in the living room caught his eye. The eyes of the idols on the shelves were burning like little colorful Christmas lights. This part was actually neat. That mushroom could make a nice party drug. It just clearly didn’t work well with murder basements. Yen opened the door.

For a second he saw a dark-skinned teenager in a suit, then he realized the visitor wore a flayed pale face as a mask and his arms were elbow-deep in blood. Branches and feathers and strings of beads burst out of the stranger’s scalp and blood poured from under the face he was wearing. It was a waterfall of blood. A torrent of blood, and it kept growing.

Yen screamed and shut the door in the monster’s face.

The blood began to seep in under the door, soaking the rug under Yen’s feet. The biker stumbled backwards, his heart hammering in his ears. There was another guy in the hallway. This one had his ribcage torn open, and his insides were crawling with shining centipedes and bugs. Yen screamed again and ran. The dude covered in bugs dashed in the opposite direction. Yen scrambled through the corridor, not sure where he was going. There were screams, scratching and knocking coming from the room with the trapdoor now. More knocking came from the front door.

“Fuck off, Satan!” Yen yelled. “Not today!”

Yen half-ran, half-crawled up the stairs, grabbed the cross from the wall and pointed it away from himself, then shimmied into a corner and sat there, breathing heavily.

His hands were also covered in blood. And his arms. His legs too.

The corridor in front of him vanished.

He was in a field. No, it was actually a desert. There was the smell of burning. Bugs began to swarm over his festering flesh, they rained onto the ground. Nakhti was there too. He looked at Yen coldly. Then a centipede crawled out of one of Nakhti’s eyes and into his hair, and his face grew emaciated like that of a corpse. Nakhti fell down on the ground and just stared at the sky. 

Someone stabbed Yen in the chest. He saw hands reach into him and watched his heart be lifted out between his ribs. With purple eyes shining, Blaise held it up to the sun. Satan was there too, though he wore a different face this time. Rain fell, but it did not feel wet or cold. It did nothing to soothe the pain or wash the blood off. 

There was so much blood. It was everywhere. It splattered all over his face. And some gooey gore with it. Then some of the blood and gore lifted off his skin and flew towards a single point in front of him, like a reverse explosion. It came together like a freaky flower, and then Zack’s face was there, looking at him with a smile that faded into a frown and was swallowed by darkness.

The bikers were sitting on a picnic blanket in the middle of the jungle, swallowing giant bugs whole. Sam offered him a centipede dripping with black tar and shadows. Yen took it and looked at it. It turned into a cross. Then a black-bladed knife.

Yen began to shake.

“Stop it, just stop it…”

⚞ ♗ ⚟

When Blaise came back a few minutes later, he saw Shaazgai standing on his front porch and admiring his new reflection in a nearby window. The lawyer was so lost in making seductive faces at himself, he didn’t notice Blaise approach.

The priest cleared his throat. “Can I please get into my own house?”

“Your delivery boy yelled and slammed the door closed in my face. What was that all about?” Shaazgai said light-heartedly, still not taking his eyes off his reflection.

“Trust me, you don’t want to know. We’re in the middle of a situation here.”

“I’m sure it can wait.” Shaazgai turned around and plastered himself all over Blaise’s front. His fingers clawed at the priest’s shirt, and he all but melted into him. “Don’t you want me? This body has barely been touched yet, it’s all new, so much for us to explore, isn’t this exciting?” Shaazgai’s blue eyes burned with the well-familiar lust. Everytime he got a new body, it was the same old song all over again. But right now Blaise had no time to indulge him.

“Shaazgai, I’m flattered that once again you single me out, and normally I would take you up on the offer, but this is a family emergency.” Blaise tried to gently detach the new teenage incarnation of the lawyer from himself.

“Hah! Family. You don’t have a family! I would know, I’m your closest friend,” Shaazgai crooned. Blaise’s attempts to get him away seemed to be interpreted as flirting instead, and the lawyer kept rubbing against him like a cat in heat.

The priest resisted correcting him. “Think of my reputation, what if my neighbours see this?” He tried to shove a key into the lock behind Shaazgai’s back, but he couldn’t aim with the man all over him.

“Oh please, you have wards for that. But you know, we could take it inside, I don’t mind.” Shaazgai finally moved enough to let Blaise open the door, but stayed firmly attached to the priest even so.

“I feel truly privileged by this visit, but this is really not the time for it. Besides, I already got to admire this body during your funeral in January, remember? I’m sure a more thorough inspection can wait a little.”

“Well, I promised you a favor, I am returning it now.” Shaazgai looked at him through half-lidded eyes and moved in close, about to kiss him.

The priest dodged him and physically moved him away. “No, this is not how or when I intend to make use of that particular favor. Now do me a really minor one, and please step aside, I’m serious.”

The lawyer sighed. “Why must you be no fun at a time like this? Will you have me go and waste this untouched body on some strangers…”

“Please, it’s been two months, I know you better than this. There is probably a line of hand-picked suitors waiting for you back home, I really don’t deserve this.” He finally managed to slam the key into the lock.

“But I already drove all the way out here,” Shaazgai grumbled softly.

“Which was no doubt to attend some other business, judging by the unannounced visit. Now, I must insist…” Blaise brushed him aside one final time in a firm but polite manner. “Thank you.”

Shaazgai did not look convinced. But he did not try to resist.

The priest opened the door and went in. A mildly ruinous landscape unfolded before his eyes. The shoe rack in the hallway was overturned, the doormat misplaced and the carpet in the next room rolled up. The direction it folded in marked the path of Yen’s escape. Father Ivers followed in his wake but strayed from the course to cast a brief glance into the room with the entrance to the basement. The trapdoor was closed, and there was an armchair standing on top of it. He shook his head. Yen howled in terror upstairs, and Blaise hurried up there without further delay.

He found the biker sitting in the corner of the corridor on the second floor. Yen was wide-eyed, his face covered with eyeliner, snot and tears, and he was holding the cross in both hands like a knife, pointing it in front of himself, blindly, swinging it like he was fighting back against some imagined assailants.

The priest approached him warily. ”Shush, boy, I’m back. Do not hit me with that.”

“Blaise?” Yen’s eyes darted around, like he couldn’t see the priest. “Blaise, please, get me out of here!”

“I will, my boy. Try to be calm now.” The priest slowly closed the distance between them and cautiously lowered Yen’s trembling hands. He sat down on the floor by his side. “I’ve brought some leaves you need to thoroughly chew and swallow. The vision will end soon after.”

He took hold of the biker’s chin and stuffed the leaves into Yen’s mouth, and as Yen chewed, Blaise pulled him close and just held him. The young man clung to him, shaking violently, eyes staring into nowhere. When he swallowed the leaves, he started crying into the priest’s clothes.

Blaise ran his hands over Yen’s back. “I’m here, son. In just a moment it will be over.”

“Why did you rip out my heart, Daddy?” Yen sobbed. “Why did you rip out my heart?”

There was a heavy silence for a moment. Then Blaise sighed, and softly he said, “It wasn’t your heart, Yen. I would never hurt you. If you want to understand what you saw, I will explain. I will tell you everything you want to know. Later. When you are in a shape to listen.”

“Thanks,” Yen sobbed. “Thanks for not ripping out my heart. You’re the best, Daddy.”

“That is a very low bar you set for me as a parent. I am not the best, perhaps, but I am trying.”

Yen nuzzled close to him and cried with relief. Blaise planted a kiss on the top of his head and held him in his embrace, stroking his hair soothingly.

“Are you done there yet?” Shaazgai inquired impatiently from downstairs.

“Tell Satan to go away, Daddy!” Yen screamed in terror when Shaazgai’s head popped up on the staircase. 

Blaise followed the biker’s gaze until his eyes met Shaazgai’s. “Please, kindly wait outside, Satan. Have a smoke perhaps.”

“Bah. Kids these days.” Teenage Satan disappeared and headed downstairs.

“Thanks, Dad.” Yen shakily sighed with relief. 

They sat like this for a while. Then Yen’s eyes slowly regained focus, and his sobs subsided. He looked embarrassed, but did not withdraw from Blaise.

The priest, likewise, made no attempt to get up or let go.

“Promise you’ll explain the whole heart removal business later, ok?” Yen broke the silence finally.

Blaise closed his eyes and just nodded, tiredly.

Yen relaxed completely. “I’m never snorting anything in that basement again.”

The priest opened his eyes and smiled, just a little. “That is a highly unrealistic resolution. Maybe let’s agree you will not go snorting things without asking me first.”

Yen grinned weakly. “I like the way you think, Dad.”

⚞ ¥ ⚟

It took Yen a while to calm down. Even when the visions fully subsided, he was on edge and jumpy to an extreme. Blaise had made him herbal tea and left him half-lying on his bed, tucked in like a little kid. Even through the closed door Yen could hear Satan’s voice. That was McDollarface. He knew it. He didn’t look like him. The voice wasn’t his. But the manner was unmistakable. Nobody else sounded quite as snotty.

But he looked so different. The guy he saw before the nightmares kicked in was almost Zack’s age. And he had dark skin. No way plastic surgery could pull something like that off. And who the hell would look less white on purpose, in this country? Although, being ridiculously rich you could probably as well be blue or purple, and nobody would give a damn. Still, it troubled Yen. He remembered seeing McDollarface in his vision. And Blaise too. They looked different, but he knew it was them.

Vision. Pheh. It was a hallucination. Just a very bad trip.

But then again… Yen gulped.

He heard the front door close and a moment later the sound of a car driving off. Blaise’s steps came from the creaky stairs and a moment later the priest began to carefully open the door.

“I’m awake,” Yen said.

“Good.” Blaise came in and sat on the bed next to him.

“That was McDollarface, wasn’t it? He is…” Yen felt a heaviness in his chest, and the vision of those two above him, holding his heart, returned. “He is in a new body now, isn’t he? It’s something he does, isn’t it?”

The priest let out a sigh and did not deny it.

“Who is he?” Yen asked, feeling his blood run cold.

“He’s a reincarnating Persian sorcerer, in eternal service to a god of chaos.”

“Yeah…” Yen nodded several times. “Yeah, I can see that. Can’t think of a more evil job than a lawyer…” He rubbed his eyes, trying to get rid of the superimposed nightmarish image he had seen when he looked at McDollarface. “So you two are business partners on the evil sorcerer front then?”

“Yes. But he helps me with legal matters as well, and I lend my enlightened influence and endorsement to him sometimes. We facilitate each other’s endeavours. It’s an equal exchange.”

Yen nodded a few times again, then said matter-of-factly “He is very evil. He had blood on his hands and his arms up to here.” Yen gestured showing the spot on his bicep. He shuddered, remembering those hands reaching into his chest. That brought back the pressing question, but Yen couldn’t bring himself to ask it. Instead he asked, “Why do you work with someone like him? You’re not a bad guy. Not like that, for sure.”

The priest frowned. “‘Not like that’ is probably a fair statement, but I did a lot of things in the past that were adequate to their times, but which could be considered evil now, and well, even back then. So me and him are probably worth each other in some regards.”

“When exactly did you do all these things?” Yen scrutinized the priest. The phrase ‘reincarnating Persian sorcerer’ suggested a timeline he couldn’t have previously imagined.

“A while back. I’m a bit older than I seem to be.”

Yen relaxed against the headboard of the bed. He stayed silent for a long moment, trying to come to terms with this new and very crazy-sounding information. He looked into nothing, then at Blaise. The priest was looking back at him with a serious expression.

“Do you want to discuss what you saw me do in your vision?”

Yen thought for a long moment. “Does what happened back there change anything between the two of us now?” He gulped, feeling a little insecure. “Would it change the fact we’re… kind of a family now?”

“No. Not on my side at least.” Blaise shook his head. “That story would tell you that I am even more of a crook than you expected, and maybe it would make you feel betrayed on behalf of someone you aren’t. Either that, or you would feel extremely ‘badass’. But it doesn’t change anything about our family situation. I had a plan, I usually do, but I have a son now instead. That’s how things are now.” He smiled at Yen and patted his leg through the comforter. “But I will tell you the story if you want me to. You have the right to know. Perhaps you even should. At the same time, I am afraid it might trigger things that are beyond our control. Consequences of my past actions that we will one day have to face, and that I would rather face later, than sooner. It’s… complicated, but if you want me to, I will explain.”

“So… you would prefer not to?” Yen asked.

“Yes.”

“Don’t then. I don’t really care to know.” That was bullshit. “Ok, I would actually really like to know, now you got me intrigued, but…” Yen sighed and looked at the ceiling. He could still see those two bastards gutting him. Or at least gutting someone through whose eyes he was looking. Whoever that was, the guy was long dead. And Blaise was here. And he’d been there for Yen when he needed him most. “I… trust you. Whatever it was, if you don’t want to tell me, I don’t want to know. But it seems like there is a lot of other exciting shit that you could tell me about, if you don’t mind, that I would probably enjoy hearing about that a lot more.” Yen smiled faintly. Their eyes met, and he felt it was the right decision.

That freaky concoction he had snorted had only given Blaise purple eyes and funky tattoos — those didn’t even look scary. It was the lawyer who had looked like Satan. Even the magical mumbo jumbo was on Blaise’s side.

The corners of the priest’s mouth rose a little. “Thank you, son. I appreciate your trust, and I promise that whenever the past catches up with us, I’ll be there for you. For now, it’s better not to dwell on it. And you are entirely right. There are so many other things I can tell you. How would you like to instead hear a story about the time I was the high priest of Sun in the Inca empire?”

Yen looked at him in mild disbelief, then snorted. “High priest? High on what? Anyway, bring it on, Daddy… Dad.” Yen got comfortable under the covers. He never got any bedtime stories from the assholes who ‘raised’ him. Here was another thing they could catch up on.


We’re pleased to announce that High Priests of America, the side story about exploits of Blaze and Shaazgai through the ages, can now be read here>> This side story will also explain Yen’s vision from this chapter, well, at least a part of it.

And in case you’re wondering, then yes, there will be a side story related to Dwight’s death as well.