“Don’t,” Triss said, Corvid paused hand on his door. “Let’s go for a walk instead.”
She leads the way into the forest behind my house; it was a thin strip of evergreens the college used to separate themselves from the town. I could walk across in ten minutes if I didn’t feel like driving.
It was also a favorite spot for campfire parties, underage drinking, and canoodling. Usually some combination of the three. The college would regularly try to clean it up with a proposal to have it patrolled in the evenings before realizing they didn’t have the budget.
On entering the shade of the young evergreens, Triss turned to the side. While thin the forest was long, this path would loop to the other side of the campus before heading away from town.
Her gait was stiff, or at least as stiff as her gait could be. The sinuous movement that was the envy of models everywhere was so natural to her it would have been part of her bone structure. It still somehow managed to convey a sense of frustration much like a child stamping around the house.
Whatever it was she had to say Corvid figured he would wait till she was ready. She was apparently waiting for him to ask leading to a silent stalemate. They passed an empty fire pit; logs dragged in a semi-circle around it.
“They just had to leave the cans didn’t they?” Triss asked, glaring at a few empty beer cans scattered around.
“They usually have an event to clean up the forest near the end of the year. Prizes for the most trash collected,” Corvid replied.
“It just isn’t right forcing others to clean up after themselves, in the end, we’re responsible for our messes, and judged by them,” Triss said standing before the fire pit.
“I doubt there is much we can do about it, compulsions to clean up behind themselves are a bit beyond me. Your enchantresses might be able to do it,” Corvid said.
“It is not beyond me,” one finger pointed down she drew a circle in the air humming a tune. The effect was immediate and extreme, expanding from the circle as a wave of energy, nearly knocking Corvid to his knees.
Unless she had a clean up spell on hand that had been cast with enough power behind it to make Corvid’s hands twitch towards the cans. It was a massively dramatic use of energy that would keep the forest and most of the campus clean for the next decade.
“That seems excessive,” Corvid said.
“Excessive is what I do; it’s been over a hundred years since I was last ordered to do something active. I had to clean up a mess left behind by someone who didn’t think it was their problem, then I judged them by it,” Triss replied. “Your messes are my messes, Corvid. I took responsibility for you.”
“This is about Alvia; I wasn’t aware there was an issue.”
“Not with Death there isn’t, he don’t care as long as you keep compressing all his problems into one neat bundle. Officially I’m not supposed to care either, and I don’t she was blinded by ambition and would have led her family even deeper into their hole. The problem isn’t who, or even that someone in your position used their privileges in such a way. The problem is that you. Killed. Someone. In. Cold. Blood.”
Triss had turned to face him; her face didn’t match her sharp tone. It was concerned, worry lines visible. From was Corvid had read succubi were some of the most expressive creatures alive if they wanted a person to know what they felt they could. They could lie just as easily, but somehow he didn’t think she was.
Corvid lowered his eyes unable to meet her’s. “Sorry, it seemed like the thing to do at the time. It doesn’t scare me.”
She softened, “that existential fear is gone forever, you’ll need to find a new reason to value life.”
“You can play ping pong with the barrier between life and death; people aren’t scared of things they can play ping pong with,” Triss answered.
Corvid gave a small laugh at her joke, “not what I was asking.”
“A second chance at life isn’t worth it if you don’t live. In this month have you done anything, or interacted with anyone that wasn’t work related?” Triss asked.
“I went to investigate a vampire murder scene,” Corvid replied.
“You went because I said you should, you should also help them track it down and kill it. Then celebrate with them, get drunk, have some fun, and get laid.”
“Really? Get laid; that’s your answer to me getting my shit together.”
“It’s how I live it up, you humans aren’t all the different either. You even get to taste both flavors now.” Triss punctuated the statement by grabbing his ass.
“I’ve meant to ask about that.”
“Bleed through from the familiar bond I’m afraid, you two are about equal in power, and I was one of the two people performing the ritual. You’re probably just going to have to accept finding dudes hot now. If you feel like experimenting, Matilda can hook you up.”
“No thanks, I’ll deal for the time being.”
“Wrong attitude kid, don’t just deal accept and run with it. Life is too short to worry about the little things.”
“Aren’t you immortal?” Corvid asked.
“Everything dies, I’m just taking my time with it.” Triss answered.
“A millennium is taking your time?”
“I’m quite a bit older than that, I’ve spent more time on this plane than that.” Triss started walking back the way they came, seemingly less upset. “We should head back unless you want to take me on one of these logs.”
“You’re my boss, and apparently so much older than me it requires scientific notation,” Corvid replied following her.
“That’s ageist, and it’s not as if I give you assignments or performance reviews. Me being your boss is mostly ceremonial, I just get the pleasure of putting you back together.” She paused looking back. “It’s not actually a pleasure, I don’t like putting you back together. I would appreciate it if you don’t get injured. No matter how good I am your body will give you a bill right around your second century.”
“That still doesn’t feel real, I keep thinking my life expectancy is still around eighty or whatever the current outlook is. Even a hundred seems like it would be an achievement.”
Triss didn’t say anything, twigs breaking under her feet. The light played patterns down her back that Corvid had a hard time not focusing on.
“The books always get it wrong,” Triss said, “about immortality. My kind doesn’t live long, we’re manipulators not very strong physically or magically. In Hell, the ones who rule through strength don’t like manipulators or politicians. The Succubi that make it to this plane the ones who make it into your stories are the best of us. The strongest, the most cunning, the greatest we can breed thanks to rather heavy selection pressures. It’s not always a good thing to have your reputation based on the greatest members of your race, just increased the pressure on the rest of us. I clawed my way to this plane as fast as I could, and swore to never leave except with my permanent destruction.”
A thick patch of trees blocked out the remaining sunlight plunging the path into shadows. She shifted her gait seemingly to make up for the lack of dappled light on her back. Corvid watched until she started speaking again.
“I lived like every day might be my last in Hell every day was. I knew I had the potential to live forever, I just didn’t understand it. It took a rather stern talking to from a rather irate deity,” she giggled, “and a job at what would later become Garden View before I realized I was immortal, no one was coming along to kill me at a whim. It’s an understanding that takes a very long time to sink in, I’ve known gods who never came to terms with their own immortality before it was taken from them. I’ve lost my point haven’t I?”
“Well I’m not nearly as immortal as you are, but you started off with the books getting it wrong,” Corvid answered.
“It’s about the memories, people say things seem to speed up as you get older. That’s just because you pay less attention, make fewer memories. It evens out after a while, you just have to learn how to live in the moment.”
“So if I’m going to live forever I shouldn’t think about it?” Corvid asked.
“Yeah, also get some long term investments accounts, those really add up after a while,” Triss advised.
“How does that work?”
“Well I use to have a horde, but then I switched to numbered Swiss accounts. These days I have a combination of charitable foundations and some shell Corps. I have some lawyers who specialize in immortal accounts, I’ll leave you their card,” Triss answered.
“Is this a human lawyer?”
“Well, some members of the firm are, most of the partners are Devils. Don’t give me that look, I said Devils, not demons.” She hadn’t looked back to see Corvid’s expression.
“There’s a difference?”
Triss looks back, her face the perfect combination of mortification and horror, with just a hint of a pout. “Don’t ever ask that in front of one of them. There’s a girl in your house,” she added before giving an answer.
“No one you know I take it?” Corvid asked, Triss just shot him a glare in reply. “Well I haven’t given anyone directions recently, and unless they’re also a psychopomp it wasn’t Anna. Any reason for me to be concerned?”
“Well, emotionally we’ve got some nerves and a bit of doubt. Some excitement and curiosity as well. Usually, I’d say someone interested in you but uninvited so they’re not sure if you’ll mind.”
“Which is weird,” Corvid starts adding, “because people who can find my place have to be invited, even the Dullahan surveillance team couldn’t find my place until I let them. Only people delivering packages and Matilda are currently on the list. You sure there isn’t any hostile intent?”
“I’ve been at this longer than your family line, no hostile intent, your wards are fine. It’s almost like you broke into your own place.”
“Oh joy Triss, do I have any peers I’m not aware of or at least living ones in such that the term applies to any of us.”
“There is a Khazakistani mage we’re going to recruit in about two months, but no one else,” Triss said.
“I thought this post was like highlander, there can be only one.”
“There were a lot fewer people and even fewer mages in the world when your predecessor signed up, he kept up with the growing population by forming the Dullahans, and unprecedented power. Throwing a baby like you into his pool would be irresponsible, we’re thinking about expanding to two per continent.”
“This won’t effect my benefits package or budget will it?” Corvid asks.
“No, your gun fund is safe.”
Corvid unconsciously checked his weapons as the exited the forest. The foliage parting to reveal a rather underwhelming sunset. Triss dropped back letting him take the lead.
“What? You have a cute girl in your house either I’m going to need to make a quick exit give you two some privacy or she’s going to try and kick you ass. I might heal you but I won’t defend you.”
“What’s the point of hanging out with you if you won’t have my back in a fight?”
“I’m a pacifist, it’s a curse. Literally,” Triss answered.
“I think you fried the minds of all my neighbors, half the campus and everyone who goes for a walk for the next decade.”
“I’m allowed my indiscretions.”
“Well that’s horrifying,” Corvid said opening his front door as quickly as possible to surprise anyone who might be inside. “Oh what the hell, you aren’t supposed to be able to do that.”