Chapter 1 - Visha
Safid sat down with a sigh.
“How’s your day been?” I ask.
“No one’s died yet.” My brother says.
“Shame.” I answer. “If you switched to physical torture, you would actually be able to kill people, and we’d get to work together.”
“But driving them insane is so much more fun!”
“Then stop complaining. It’s either drive people insane or inflict physical pain on them until they die.”
“I’ve heard of demons who can kill people by driving them insane.” Isati, The Demon King’s heir, interjects from his seat across from me.
“Are you talking about yourself?” I ask, knowing that Isati would never miss a chance to brag.
“Of course! I’m offended that you even had to ask!”
Safid groans. “Remind me why The Demon King decided to make you his heir?”
“Probably because I average more than five kills a day.” Isati shoots back.
“Yesterday I got six,” I mutter, then immediately hope that Isati didn’t hear me.
No such luck.
“I guess I’ll have to get seven today, then.”
“It isn’t a competition!”
“Then why did you make it seem that way?”
“You started it!”
I stand up, because every demon knows that one cannot debate well sitting down. I can tell that Isati senses the challenge, but he doesn’t stand up, instead, if anything, leaning back in his seat (how he does that is still a mystery to me, I can’t do it without having to hold my wings in a very uncomfortable position). This only makes me angrier. By not standing up, he’s implying that he can do better than me, even without doing his best. The entire dining hall quieted. ‘Debates’ happened often, but almost never between the two most powerful demons in our year. In fact, this would be the first time fighting for both Isati and I. Safid slid away from the two of us nervously, probably hoping I wouldn’t pick him as my second, the person who would have to explain my side of the story if any of the adult demons decided to get involved. If I’d been formed normally, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but unfortunately, I was born with the ability to manipulate light, like an angel, instead of the normal demon power, the ability to control shadows. There isn’t anyone else in this land that wouldn’t side with Isati if we got in trouble.
“Safid,” I say in a clear voice, making sure everyone can hear me. “I want you to be my second.”
Safid sighs again. He always sighs when I’m doing something stupid.
“Fine.” He says, standing up.
Isati tilts his head to the side, pretending to think it over. For a second, I think he’s going to pick Ricin, his best friend and sidekick. But...
“Lola,” Isati announces, turning around and searching the crowd. “Would you like to be my second?”
A girl - Lola - a few seats down stands up hesitantly, and nods. I don’t recognise her, but I assume that she’s one of the mortals that Isati killed yesterday. Of course Isati would pick a new demon. Only a few demons have met him, and most that do are on trial for breaking one of Hell’s laws, or only speak to him at court, when he has to be polite. In summary, almost no one knows what he’s really like. If he’s kind to one demon, he’d not only earn their support, but also give the lucky demon a story to spread, about how, out of everyone the crown prince of hell asked them to be their second. Anyone who listened would either think Isati open-minded and just, or far too trusting. Either way, Isati would benefit from the rumors. I wouldn’t be surprised if Isati had been the son of a politician in his original, mortal life. Besides, they always end up in Hell.
“Now, Visha,” Isati begins, making a big show of looking confused. “What are we debating?”
That was a good question. I hadn’t thought about that.
“Are kill averages a competition?” I reply.
“No,” Isati answers as soon as I finish.
“Then why do you care about mine?”
“I couldn’t care less. You just decided you wanted to share.”
“You almost never have a conversation with someone without mentioning your kill average,”
“And that matters because?”
“You wouldn’t bring it up so much if it didn’t matter!”
“It does matter. That doesn’t mean it’s a competition,”
“It does matter. Perhaps you aren’t aware of this yet, Visha, but competition isn’t the only thing that matters.”
“But-” I try to interrupt.
“And furthermore,” Isati continues, talking over me. “I do believe that before you started this debate, you said that kill averages were not a competition, correct?”
“Then we agree, and are fighting over nothing.” Isati interrupts me. Again. He waves a hand through the air, somehow dismissing the entire debate. “Case dismissed.”
“But you said-”
“Are we debating whether or not I thought that kill averages were a competition?” Isati asks, clearly enjoying himself. “Because I can assure you, I will win that.”
I want to strangle him. I almost do, but Safid grabs my wrist and pulls me down. As soon as I sit, Lola returns to her seat, and everyone else continues with their previous conversations.
“But I haven’t finished speaking!” I sputter.
“Yes, you have.” Safid growls. “Your debate is over. You won.”
But I didn’t win. Safid has to know that. Isati twisted my words, as well as his own, somehow making it clear that he was the winner, even after declaring it a tie. Now everyone will think I’m some stuck-up, competition-obsessed lunatic until I prove I’m not. I’ll have to think of a way to get him back. I stand up, and immediately draw the eye of everyone in the room. I flash a gesture that relies heavily on my middle finger towards Isati, who seems to find it amusing. I stride to the giant doors at the other side of the hall and slip outside.
I have never let anyone but myself have the last word in an argument, and I won’t stop doing so now.
Even if all of Hell is working against me.