January 2, 2022

Another Candid Conversation...Sort of

While Daos whipped out his cellphone, Dominador headed back into the restaurant.  He didn't like the idea of the Chief sitting alone at the mercy of Slimeballs One and Two.  To his horror, both the Mayor and Im Hyun-jun had already relocated to the table Daos had originally reserved.

"Bibiana," the Mayor began jovially enough, "do you mind if a couple of bachelors join you for a bottle of wine?"

"Mm-mm; no, ma'am," Dominador shook his head fervently, stepping forward to stop anything before it started.  "Not today.  Chief we gotta bounce!"  He held out his hand for her.

But Hyun-jun was already on his feet, toe to toe with Dominador, staring him down.  For a split second, Dominador's life flashed before his eyes.  He suddenly remembered this man was actually a demon, and this particular demon had some sort of pyromaniac ability.  And for a second which lasted an eternity, Dominador was absolutely certain he was about to get flame-broiled in the middle of the restaurant.

Might not be so bad dying by fire....

Daos was still on the phone when he reentered the restaurant; he too stopped and watched intently to see if Hyun-jun was going to make a move.  The Mayor was watching with his mouth on the floor, thoroughly confused by this abrupt turn of events, while Bibiana was already reaching for her purse where she kept her favorite .38.

To everyone's surprise, it was Hyun-jun who backed off first, of his own volition.  Daos could practically hear Dominador's heart thudding in the distance as the junior detective watched the demon slowly, gracefully retake his seat.

"We meant nothing improper towards Señora Solís," Hyun-jun said crisply.  "As a matter of fact, the Chief and the Mayor are old friends."

Dominador quickly recovered his spunk.  "Be that as it may, she's mine and Daos's date tonight and you can't have her."

And with that, Dominador snatched Bibiana's hand off the table and hurried her out of the restaurant, with Daos close behind.

"Sorry, Chief," Dominador winced, keeping his voice low.  "Daos can explain everything."


The Consultant and Daos had a routine. When he needed something, he made a phone call. She met him at his little tearoom (and he managed to find one in every town) ordered an Earl Grey, and talked shop, usually over a book.  It was a system that had worked for almost five years.

Today, however, she had just barely gotten settled in her hotel room when there was a firm knock at her door.  To her complete shock, it was Daos.

"So this is what you didn't want to tell me?" he fired right off the bat.  "I'm supposed to die sometime soon, and you didn't think I needed to know?"

Once again, he'd caught her off guard.  She look flustered, shaking her head as though to clear it.

"Daos," she started neutrally, trying to maintain control of the situation, "calm down."

"Don't tell me to calm down!" he roared, visibly stunning her.  "The Grey Oracle told you - and damn near everybody else - about the day I'm supposed to die, and you hid that from me!  You shipped me out here in the middle of nowhere, sent me out blind to do God-knows-what, and all the while you were holding out on me!  You user!  You lying, selfish, soulless user!  I wasn't needed anymore so you put me out to pasture --"

"Lies!" she suddenly barked.  It was Daos's turn to be taken aback; he couldn't recall the last time she raised her voice to him or anyone else.  It just wasn't her style.

"Rubbish," she rasped dangerously, as though her mind were beginning to slightly unravel.  "Drivel.  Daos will not die because some low-rent charlatan babbling in the darkness says so.  Daos is a Sacred Guardian.  Should he die, he will die on his feet, facing his enemy."  She turned away from him, face red as she fumed, heading back into her suites.  Her breathing came heavy, ragged.  The rumor appeared to affect her more deeply than it did him, as though she were personally offended by it.   "The great and infamous Daos will not succumb to a death so pathetic and meaningless as drowning," she bitterly spat.

The water-shaped bullet.  Daos's eyes widened.  His voice came out soft, distant, as though he'd just learned some small trifle.  "That's how it happens?  I drown?"

"Lies," the Consultant bit out.  "Garbage.  Bullshit.  You think I would invest all this time and all these resources in one who could be taken out in his prime?" she growled.  "No great seer has prophesied this.  No mystic among our allies has sought me out.  I even consulted with shamans from your own homeland - none of them know what the hell she is talking about!  So why should I believe the Grey Oracle, that wretched, one-eyed hack?"

Daos's voice came out oddly solemn.  "Has the Grey Oracle ever been wrong?"

"She lies!" the Consultant bellowed.

"Then why are you so upset?" he demanded.

The Consultant's eyes were wild.  "She was counting on this!  She knew that there is no greater prophecy than a self-fulfilling one.  All she had to do was spread rumors to the right people.  Was it Hyun-jun who told you this nonsense?  I bet it was.  I will hunt him down and cut out that silver tongue of his myself.  And then I will send bounty hunters of the highest caliber to punish the Grey One for her blasphemy!"

So it's true then.  By her unprecedented fury and avoidance of his simple question, Daos knew it was true.

He turned and slowly started out of the room.  Behind him he could her breathing racked with slowly intensifying sobs as she called for him, her voice growing hoarse with each syllable.

"Daos, she lies!  She lies!  Daos!!!"

Next: The Water-Shaped Bullet

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