“Friends show their worth in times of trouble, not in happiness.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
“Love, you are in special circumstances. Just let me deal with the matter in your stead. I promise to handle it carefully.” I follow Seria down the alleyway. It's the same one I brought her to several weeks ago. At this location we can meet up with some people who have contacts to the underworld.
She shakes her head. “It's fine as long as I can siphon off some life energy every now and then. You just have to stay close and let me do the talking. You may learn a thing or two about dealing with shady characters.” She quickens her steps, aiming for a sturdy looking door. It belongs to the average looking building in front of us.
I follow her, not very pleased about the fact that I've to play bodyguard. If she gets sick with someone who wishes her ill close by, she has no way to defend herself. And there is the baby to think about. Elona's speech baffled me a little to be honest. I had no idea that access to someone's spirit form could have such drastic effects. Though the pregnancy thing seems more like a result of the special ability that comes with being a succubus.
Succubi can leech on the life force of other organisms, preferably male, and use this power to accelerate their own metabolism. This results in increased strength, speed and healing. The trick is that a baby is apparently considered as a part of the body, so it also benefits from the accelerated metabolism, resulting in a very short pregnancy. Of course that's only the case if the succubus in question has enough life force at hand.
I shudder, imagining the natural consequence of Seria's circumstances. If we aren't careful, we will end up with a football team of children in no time. I take pride in the fact that I consider myself as a good father. Okay, maybe I am not the best father figure. Though there are certainly worse role models.
Nonetheless, the thought of having a horde of little Serias to control isn't exactly my idea of a good life. We've to be very careful when it comes to that. Maybe two or three children? I can live with that. But definitely not more.
There is a magic number to this. One child means that you have to take constant care of it because it feels lonely otherwise. They seek attention. Two children are playmates for each other, which means that the parent doesn't have to play with them constantly. Everything above that number increases a parent's work and requires attention, because children also cause trouble and have to be educated.
My train of thought is interrupted when Seria reaches the door. She stops and knocks politely. After a few moments, a shutter in the door opens and someone mumbles something incomprehensible from the other side. Seria doesn't seem to be fazed by the rude tone in the person’s voice. “Hi! I am Seria, an old friend of your boss. I've to speak with Don.”
“Go away. We don't deal with little chicks,” the voice answers and the shutter snaps closed.
Seria's reaction follows without hesitation. She takes a stance and digs one heel into the ground. Then she delivers a lazy slap to the door, creating a nice, little dent in the shape of her open palm. The scene would have been comical, taking her earnest preparation into account. The result paints another picture. The whole door breaks out of the wall, frame and all. A part of the wall crumbles, creating a huge hole and burying whoever was guarding the entrance.
Yep, just like the last time she visited them. I've a feeling that the people who are running this business aren't really Seria's friends. More like victims who can be easily intimidated into doing her bidding. I wonder why she bothers to pay them personal visits, a phone call should be sufficient. I doubt that they forgot her previous visits. Is it just the fact that she likes to destroy their door? Do they have an ongoing contest? I noticed that the new door was sturdier than the old one.
The hole grants me vision of a small room with a desk inside. A scrawny guy with the aura of an accountant is manning the seat at the desk. He gapes in dismay at the hole in his office. “You again! What's going to happen on your next visit? Will you take down the entire building?”
“Hi. Yes, it's me again and I need to speak with Don. And no, I think I'll settle for the room. Taking down the building is reserved for when I am angry. Today I am just frustrated.” She walks past the accountant without sparing him a second glance. The fact that he waved her through is completely beside the point. I suppose he did it to save at least some of his dignity.
I follow on her heels, wincing as I walk over the iron door. The bouncy motion of the heavy piece of iron lets me know that someone is buried beneath it. At least the muffled moaning means that he is still alive.
We enter Don's office and Seria sits down in the chair opposite of a figure who did his best to look like some old-school Mafia boss. I regard the rest of the office with a keen eye. The walls are full with folders and stashes of documents. If all of this is linked to illegal activities, then raiding this place would be a jackpot to the DF.
Don regards me with a wary expression, but then he turns his attention to Seria and puts on a fake smile. “Such a happy encounter. I am always glad to get visited by a well paying customer like you. It always covers the cost for a new door. What can I do for you.”
Seria answers with an equally fake smile. “Perseus escaped his prison. We want him back. He surely had help to go into hiding after his escape.”
Don purses his lips. “Perseus, the first prince, was in prison? I've never heard about that.”
She smiles and chuckles. “Of course you did. You are a good information broker. If you weren't, I would have shut down your business a while ago. But as it is, you are ending more trouble than you create. So why don't you work with authorities for once. In the end it will be to your benefit. Isn't business always better without war and destruction?”
He scratches his stubby cheek and regards us with raised eyebrows. “It's true that organized crime benefits from chaos... but war means that there is so much chaos that organized crime becomes a moot point. Bad for business in other words. So if I provide you with the information, then you will turn a blind eye on my little business.”
Seria looks towards me and I shrug. It's true this fellow's information about the hideouts in the Tandeen district was good. We would have never found the portal if he hadn't provided us with a list of possible locations. “Haven't I been doing that since Seria used you to search for the spirits' hideout?”
Don nods and rolls with his office chair to the wall to his right. He pulls a folder from a stack of documents and opens it. Then he browses through the documents inside it and a few seconds later he presents five sheets of paper to us. “The usual payment?”
Seria smiles. “Of course.”
He hands the documents to Seria and I take a look over her shoulder. The documents are files with personal data. Name, photo, crime record and abilities, it's like a curriculum vitae for criminals.
“Find those five guys and squeeze them for information.” Don rolls back to his place behind the office table. “I don't know where they are now, but they are linked to Perseus's escape. They are always working together and just yesterday someone hired them anonymously. Right after the prison went into shutdown. A coincidence? Maybe. But unlikely. Their speciality is underground operations, so there is a high chance that they are on a certain someone's payroll.”
Seria nods appreciatively. “Then we won't bother you any longer.”
“Queen, you never bother me. But my accountant may hold a grudge if you keep destroying our reception room.”