“Alright, stretch! And hold, breathe in, breathe out – great job, keep breathing. Morax, I can literally see your lungs, I can tell you’re holding it in. There we go, let them inflate! Now breath out, great job. Okay, and…down.” The assembled horde relaxed. They were drenched with sweat, and although the odor of demon musk was no longer bothering her – a small part of her was starting to enjoy it, which made her wish her stomach would churn – she’d have to spend a lot of time airing this place out.
The increased exercise was a result of her making good on her promise to Chemosh from last time. She’d pushed them even harder than she had when she was annoyed yesterday, and they were going to be feeling it. “Great job everyone! Remember, tomorrow’s a day off. Make sure to do some stretches and I’ll see you Monday!”
She strode over to Chemosh, who was at least not sitting at her desk this time, instead having pulled a chair over to watch the class more closely than he had been. “Like what you saw?” she asked, flashing him a smile as she did.
Chemosh returned the smile with his best car-salesman grin. “Absolutely. Results have been astounding – I do hope you decide to stay on after your initial contract, Ms. Schmitt. “
“We’ll see. I like the money, I like the powers. Not a huge fan of the mystery or the angelic threats.” Kelly punctuated the response with a wink, not wanting Chemosh to think this was going to escalate to an argument.
“Of course.” Chemosh’s smile was unwavering. “I’m assuming you have something on your mind, since you brought it up?”
“Yup.” Kelly hooked a chair under her hoof and slid it over to where they were. She could still, just barely, hide them in shoes while she was in public, although it made walking painful. Her jogs had moved to the earliest parts of the mornings, when no one would see her running along like a goat woman. The tufts of feather on her back were getting more pronounced, too. It would not be long before it would be near impossible to hide, not without wearing clothes far too hot for the weather.
That was a problem that, last night, Kelly realized she could probably solve along with getting more information. “Last time you said if I wanted more information, I’d need to do a few things. Extends my contract or provide you a soul or make a sacrifice, right?”
“And to be clear, that means a personal sacrifice, not literally sacrificing a life to you?”
“Actually,” Chemosh smiled, “It could mean either.”
Kelly nodded. “Well, I’ve got a two in one for you – a soul and a personal sacrifice, bundled together.”
Chemosh’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh? And how did you manage that.”
“My best friend’s ready to make a deal. Her soul in exchange for power. And the sacrifice is I’m offering to facilitate the bargain.”
Kelly was surprised by how smooth his face went. She couldn’t read anything on it at first, but he was silent for just long enough for her to pick up a glimmer of emotion. Surprise. “And…what do you want in exchange for that?”
“Well, I’m doing two things at once, so I want two things. I want the truth behind the angels, heaven, hell, all that. I want to know what I’m getting into. On top of that, I want some ability to shift to look human again, same as you all. I’m clopping around on hooves, sprouting wings, and I found a bump right above my ass that I’m sure is going to end up being a tail.” Chemosh nodded to confirm that. “I’m going to be unable to go out in public soon. Both of those and you can have her.”
Chemosh took a slow breath, and for a moment his eager excitement so perfectly mirrored Shannon’s from last night that Kelly wanted to laugh. “You do know that if you choose not to stay on with us, that does not free your friend’s soul. She will live with this for the rest of her life.”
It was Kelly’s turn to nod.
“And, to be perfectly clear,” Chemosh continued, “you are doing this with your current knowledge of what we are, based on Christian scriptures. As far as you know, you are condemning your friend to eternal torment.”
“Yeah, Chemosh, I get it.” Kelly’s voice was a bit lower now. “And after we’re done with the deal, I’ll tell you why I’m okay with that, free of charge.”
“You really would make an excellent demon, Kelly Schmitt.” Chemosh reached into his jacket and pulled out a scroll. “Then let it be so agree,” he intoned.
This time, Kelly was very careful to read every detail. It was much shorter than the one she had signed, which was something at least. No nasty loopholes jumped out on her, and she signed. Chemosh added his signature, and the deal was made.
“That’s not how this works, Ms. Schmitt. We have not secured your friends-“
Kelly didn’t mind interrupting him. “I checked over my contract. Right there in Section 13, Subsection P, ‘Securing of Assets.’ In the event a bargain directly improves my ability to serve your interests, or prevents me from being unable to fulfill it, I can collect on it before payment is received, with appropriate penalties details in Section 91, Subsection I, if for some reason payment does not occur.”
Chemosh’s grin returned. “As I said, an excellent demon. I will show you how to cloak your form, since you being arrested or harassed is unwanted attention, but I fail to see how complete knowledge of our conflict improves your ability to serve our interest.”
Kelly frowned. “Well, for starters, it improves my morale, which is always nice. But more importantly, if I get jumped by Sariel again or some of his buddies, knowing what I’m up against and why could slightly improve my chances of survival.”
“I don’t see how.” Chemosh spread his hands. “I want to help you here, Kelly, truly. But my hands are-“
“If I know why I’m fighting, I’ll fight harder. I’ll feel less confused, more comfortable, and every little bit can make the difference between life and death.”
He liked being as interrupted as much as he had before, but it didn’t look like it was going to set him off. Instead he licked his lips in thought. “Very well. I can sell that.”
Kelly relaxed and leaned back in her chair. “Awesome. So, storytime?”
“No. First, I need to teach you how to hide your form. Then…then storytime.”
Knowing when to choose her battles, Kelly got out of the chair. “Show me.”
Chemosh rose to join her, and they began.