THE ANCIENT PYTHONESS POV, CONTINUED
Last Time: Perhaps that was why I was inclined to like the telepath so much. She understood that to use her talents wholesale would be to sell her soul to the devil.
Not the literal one, of course. He was, ironically enough, honorable in his own way—though his arrogance tended to cover up that aspect of his personality.
Speaking of the devil . . . .
“Pythia,” the male voice said from behind me.
I smirked and turned to face the fallen angel, for that was—quite literally—what Lucifer was. That part—the humans had gotten right.
Once a fairy who had ascended to the status of angel, Lucifer had ultimately decided that it would be “better to reign in hell” than to follow the strict rules that angels were given—namely the rule to be benevolent.
And never violent.
Not that the fallen angel had ever been directly violent against the truly innocent, despite the warped reputation he had gotten among the humans. No—Lucifer simply got bored at times, and—when he did—he enjoyed causing trouble. The fact that he had been the one to originate all those “anti-Christian-fallen-angel” rumors was evidence that he’d had way too much time on his hands since he had “fallen.”
Perhaps, it would have been better if he’d had a “real” hell to reign over. But, alas, that fiery pit was a myth—though I had heard that Lucifer had spent a bit of time in the daemon realm, which was fraught with seismic action in the form of volcanoes.
“Lucifer,” I greeted, “I saw that you had an appointment with a human later tonight. Naughty, naughty boy.”
“Saw?” he taunted. “Tsk. Tsk. Pythia, you and I both know that you cannot see.”
I chuckled. “I see better than most,” I returned.
Lucifer was still an angel—at least when it came to the powers and magic granted to one of them; those could not be taken away. But he had been “officially” expelled from the angelic ranks—along with a few others he had managed to corrupt. The arrogant fool—and, yes, that was what I thought of him as most of the time—now was relegated to stirring up problems among humans who were weak-minded and Supernaturals who were power-hungry.
“So—what brings you to this neck of the woods on this fine night?” Lucifer asked me, affecting the accent and the phraseology of the locals of New Orleans.
“I knew that you would be here and thought I would visit with you for a while,” I responded.
“A visit?” he asked. “I remember a very carnal visit that you and I once had before you became a vampire,” he purred.
“Hmm,” I sounded noncommittally. “In Sparta? When I was forty or so? It is so difficult to remember the details of my more nondescript lovers. Were not you a ‘real’ angel at the time? With wings and everything?”
He chuckled. “You are an amusing creature, Pythia. It was a pity that I could not influence you to help me kill your human masters back then. They did deserve it, after all.”
I shrugged. “Some of them likely did. But I am a Spartan—as were they.”
He scoffed. “They used you, Pythia. A natural death was too good for them.”
“Hmm…most people are used in one way or another. Plus, would have their ‘unnatural’ deaths been for the greater good?” I asked him.
Lucifer scoffed and likely rolled his eyes. “You have always been too hung up on the ‘good.’ Why not join me? You are still a beautiful woman. With your,” he paused and I could feel him looking me up and down lasciviously, “talents, we could have much fun together.”
I smirked. “Flattery? Really?” I chuckled. “And—I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but the orgasms you give out are not that good, Lucifer.”
He laughed loudly. “So—you are just here to remind me of my shortcomings?” he asked, even as I heard a zip and then a sound that could only have been his hand running along his perfectly adequate—even more than adequate—cock.
I rolled my cloudy eyes.
“You owe me a favor, Lucifer,” I said instead of commenting on what I heard and smelled from his general direction.
“A favor? I don’t remember owing you one of those. And you should call me Luke?”
“Luke!” I snorted.
I could feel the air stir around his shrug. “I thought a more modern and less,” he paused, “ominous name might serve me well.”
“Does little Luke agree?” I asked, looking down toward where I heard his hand still stroking his cock.
He laughed and I heard another zipping noise as he put “himself” away. “Oh—he and I are always in agreement, and we both want you, my dear Pythia.”
“So—about 1815,” I smirked. “And that favor you owe me.”
“Napoleon never should have gone into Russia in 1812. I made that explicitly clear in the deal he and I made!” Lucifer said petulantly.
“And yet humans have free will—even after you make one of your deals with them,” I chuckled. “As I recall, you almost had your ass handed to you when you tried to help Mr. Bonaparte in Russia during the Battle of Borodino.”
“I did help him,” Lucifer returned angrily. “The French won that battle.”
I shook my head. “A victory-less victory. And I am still trying to figure out why you chose to help Mr. Bonaparte in the first place. You do not generally work on such a large scale, nor does your fuckery tend to involve so much death.”
Again, I could hear a swish of air as he shrugged. “The war—and, therefore, the deaths—would have occurred with or without my influence. And Boney was so arrogant and ambitious that he was fun to be around.”
“Remind you of yourself then?” I asked with a smirk.
“Ah—there will only ever be one of me,” Lucifer purred. “But Boney did amuse the hell out of me.”
“The hell—out of you?” I smirked. “Impossible!”
He chuckled. “I’ve always loved your wit, Pythia. Why not join me?” he added alluringly.
If I had been a “lesser” being, I would have been tempted by Lucifer’s tone of voice alone. He was the very definition of a seducer. But I was not a “lesser” being, and I was aware of all of his tricks. I shrugged. “Oh, no. I know better than to let you influence me. After all, what did poor Boney ultimately get from his dealings with you? You spent the years following Waterloo convincing humans that the man’s ineffectiveness was caused by his height. And you and I both know that he was not considered short by his peers.”
Lucifer chuckled. “And yet there is now a whole ‘complex’ named after him.”
“Named after what you concocted about him,” I corrected.
“He deserved it. I left him with clear instructions about Russia,” he said with a pout.
“Back to that again?” I chuckled.
“Yes—back to that again! Had Boney listened, he would have been unstoppable! But no! He had to take advantage of that free will you mentioned. And what did he get for that? I had to arrange things so that he was exiled to Elba in order to punish him for his disobedience.”
“Had to?” I chuckled.
“Yes. Definitely!” he insisted.
“But then you helped him to escape and reform his army,” I said, shaking my head.
“Well—yes. Of course!” Lucifer said offhandedly. “He and I had a deal, after all.”
I chuckled. “So you only betrayed your friend, Boney, for a little while then?”
“Precisely!” he thundered. “And we would have won at Waterloo too—if those fucking angels hadn’t interfered. The only good thing to come out of that whole clusterfuck was the song!”
I snorted out my laugh. “ABBA?!”
“Don’t pretend that you don’t like ABBA,” he said with a challenge in his voice before singing a verse from “Waterloo”:
At Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender
And I have met my destiny in quite a similar way
The history book on the shelf
Is always repeating itself
Waterloo I was defeated, you won the war
Waterloo promise to love you for ever more
Waterloo couldn’t escape if I wanted to
Waterloo knowing my fate is to be with you
Waterloo finally facing my Waterloo
I could not help but to laugh at his antics—and his impression of ABBA (complete with a feminine voice).
“Well—it is a good thing that Mr. Bonaparte’s Waterloo was not yours too.”
Lucifer chuckled. “It almost was. It did turn out to be quite the clusterfuck—didn’t it!” he recalled, good-naturedly, as though the outcome no longer bothered him. Ultimately, it probably did not. Lucifer always loved havoc, whether he was the source of it or not.
“Now—why was Waterloo not your Waterloo?” I teased.
“Yes. Yes. I remember. You helped me out of my difficulty so that I wouldn’t be captured by those evil angels,” he said with a fake pout. “Out of curiosity, how did you get those angels to back off?” he asked. “You never told me. More importantly, why did you help me? It’s because you adore me—isn’t it?” he declared, sounding very pleased with himself.
Lucifer had always been entirely too pleased with himself in my opinion.
“I am the one who alerted the angels to curb Mr. Bonaparte in Waterloo in the first place; otherwise, he would have slaughtered too many innocents. Even you would have cut your friend loose if you had seen the future that was to come if he won in Waterloo.”
“And what future was that?” Lucifer asked with curiosity.
“Because of his deal with the devil,” I smirked, “Mr. Bonaparte’s overall interest in the occult would have grown. Had he not been stopped, he would have collected nefarious witch and Were friends.”
“And why would have that been so bad?”
“Because your friend was becoming reckless. You are right about people dying in war no matter what you or I might do, but Napoleon already had a screw loose. And he would have eventually become unhinged. A whole community of Dae would have died because of a grudge held by one of his ‘future’ witch friends. And those witches would have remained a nightmare long after Bonaparte himself died.” I shook my head. “It was best to permanently curb him and be done with it.”
“Then you should have told me,” Lucifer chided. “I would have left him on Elba.”
I shook my head. “But what about your deal with Boney? I know you; you would have wanted to honor it regardless. Despite your reputation, you have your honor.”
“You really do care about me!” Lucifer chuckled.
“Do I?” I asked.
“Wait! You were the reason the angels were at Waterloo!” Lucifer yelled out. I chuckled. “I wondered when you would catch up to that. Yes. I was.”
“You wound me, Pythia!” Lucifer seemed to lament, though I could hear a grin in his tone.
“And you should have left your buddy’s side as soon as you noticed the first angel on the battlefield. If you had, you would not have needed my help.”
Lucifer scoffed. “As if those second-rate angels could have killed me.”
“Maybe not,” I chuckled. “But they did intend to cut certain parts off of you.”
Of course, like vampires, angels could heal themselves, but the process took time and caused pain.
“And you have a certain affinity for my parts,” he said smoothly.
“And—they would have imprisoned you,” I went on, ignoring his suggestive remark. “I know that you would have eventually escaped them.” I chuckled. “You always do. But you also always turn into an even bigger dick following one of your ‘vacations’ from your normal fuckery.”
“An even bigger dick?” Lucifer asked as if affronted by my words. “Impossible!”
“I know; it is difficult to fathom,” I returned flatly, pretending to ignore the double-meaning of both his words and mine.
“You enjoy fathoming my dick—don’t you?” Lucifer asked knowingly.
“Perhaps because I can see the future?” I responded coyly.
“And what do you see for my dick’s future?” he asked suggestively.
“Well—a few angels might just target you and little Luke again,” I chuckled.
“I’d prefer if you targeted it,” he responded. “Now that you don’t have to breathe . . . .”
I laughed a little louder, knowing that I could never win a battle of suggestive comments with Lucifer; likely, no one could.
Still, indulging the fallen angel’s shenanigans—or his shameless flirting—was generally quite fun.
I shook my head. In the face of any benevolent god (or goddess), Lucifer was nothing too frightening. Though some humans had turned him into a figure worse than any horror movie villain—reigning in a hell of fire, brimstone, fear, and death—he was simply an overgrown child. Of course, he liked to use humans as his toys. But—contrary to popular belief—he really did not have any dominion over the afterlife.
Of course, he enjoyed pretending that he did—offering his “deals with the devil” so that he could enjoy watching humans squirm as they approached their deaths and began to worry about “paying the piper.”
“So about that favor you owe me,” I reminded—again.
“Ah—yes. Your saving my ass after you were the reason why it was in danger to begin with!”
“Oh—but I did save it.”
“Yeah. Yeah. What could the great vampire seer want of little old me?” he asked with mirth.
“Skip your meeting tonight,” I said evenly.
“With Copley Carmichael?” he asked. “Surely one so inconsequential as he is of no interest to you. I had thought to have fun with him. He is willing—anxious even—to sell his soul to me for a bit of spiteful revenge.”
I scoffed. “Spiteful indeed. And completely ridiculous.”
“But that is the best kind of revenge!” Lucifer commented wryly.
“Yet you will not be pursuing that revenge with him,” I returned seriously.
There was a moment of silence between us, and I felt Lucifer’s mood shift as if the wind had suddenly begun to blow from the opposite direction.
I felt “the devil” step toward me. “No. Since you asked, my dear Pythia, I will not pursue my business deal with Mr. Carmichael,” he offered sincerely.
Lucifer meant his words; even if he could have tricked me, he could not have tricked my visions. I had known what Lucifer would do as soon as I began my meeting with the fallen angel.
Like I said, I did not like to cheat when it came to the future—but sometimes it was necessary to stack the deck a little.
Or at least to take out the joker.
“Thank you, old friend,” I said.
“You think of me as a friend?” he asked with an odd mixture of surprise and arrogance. “Pythia, I’m touched! And you can touch me too—if you like,” he added lasciviously.
I chuckled. “I am friends with all kinds of creatures—including those who would prefer to see you skewered. So do not let my labeling of you go to your head.” I paused and cackled. “Either of your heads.”
I felt Lucifer’s hand take mine, and then I felt his lips upon the back of my hand. “I will always owe you a favor, my dear Pythia—as long as you never ask for me to change my ways.”
“Why would I ask fire to stop burning?” I asked with a sincere smile. “But you could try being less,” I paused, “unkind to innocents.”
He leaned in and planted a brief, gentle kiss on my lips. When he leaned away, he laughed merrily. “If they were truly innocent, you and I both know that I’d never make any inroads with them!”
I shook my head. “Get thee gone, devil,” I smirked.
“Be well, seer,” he said before smacking my ass and disappearing in a way that was not unlike a fairy “pop.” Of course, that made sense—given the fact that he had been a fairy before he ascended. I chuckled. Whoever was on the “committee” that had allowed Lucifer to ascend to an angel to begin with needed to have their heads examined!
That—or they had a good sense of humor.
I closed my milky eyes and let the future take a more solid shape before me. Lucifer was now—thankfully—out of the picture I was looking at. He was the last thing Sookie and Eric needed in their lives! Copley Carmichael would now be inconsequential to them. Instead of causing a ruckus in Sookie’s life, he would turn his attentions toward a young woman of twenty-nine (the woman who would be serving him coffee all night as he waited for a meeting with Lucifer that would never come). The two would start up a conversation, which would lead to much more. Eventually, the two would marry and make a child together: a son. Amelia Broadway would not begrudge her father’s relationship with a much younger woman. In turn, Copley’s new heir would take the pressure off of Amelia, especially when that child expressed an interest in taking over the family business.
Yes—Amelia Broadway’s relationship with her father would be better within the year. And Copley would not die because of a foolish notion of revenge—or a deal with the devil.
Eventually, Amelia and Bob would become very powerful witches.
So would the daughter they would have in ten months.
I smiled to myself, thinking about how unlikely it was that I would be helping out Amelia Broadway.
In many—if not most—of the futures I had seen in my visions, Amelia was a petty person.
In fact, her dominant qualities were usually selfishness and bitterness.
However, what had actually come to pass was a one-in-a-hundred outcome: the Amelia who emerged from all of the possibilities was a woman who was willing to forgive any flaws in her friends just as she recognized her own flaws. In the end, Amelia had proven—and would now continue to prove—to be a good friend to Sookie Stackhouse. And—given the positive choices Amelia had made—she did not deserve to have an insane, devil-deal-making father fucking with her life.
Thus my little meeting with Lucifer.
Of course, that was not the extent to my helping the Viking and telepath. Insuring that Copley Carmichael was not an issue would cause—has already caused—a “ripple” in the future.
The actions I took—though rare—always did.
But the little witch deserved to keep her father—such as he was. And, given time, he would reform completely.
Notwithstanding my influence, the “ripple” would have always been a problem in some ways; however, now that the “ripple” would no longer have Copley available to manipulate, he was a more immediate problem.
So I intended to kill that ripple.
I rarely had reason enough to kill nowadays. And—even if there was reason—my inclination was often lacking.
It was not lacking this time.
And I figured that even the Fates would agree with my reasoning.
A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who offered comments on the last chapter and who welcomed this story back! Your words mean a great deal to me–as does your support.