Deal with the Devil's Little Brother

Roshell stood from her chair, she cast Ridnik a hateful glance as he entered before turning to leave.

“Stay Roshell." Stratagus said.  He did not look at her as he held out his hand but cornered Ridnik with a boring stare. “He can't touch you.”

Roshell crossed the room without looking at Ridnik and lowered herself onto Stratagus’ lap and wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Old friend to what do we owe the pleasure.” Stratagus asked, the words were casual but his tone was heavy with disdain.  “Has business been good?”

Ridnik spat.

“Thank you for all those wonderful taxes and regulations, I'm really thriving.” Ridnik grumbled. His voice more loathsome than normal.

“Oh shame they were meant to cripple your endeavors, I must steepen them.” Stratagus smiled bitterly. “Let’s skip the pleasantries, they’re not very pleasant. You have information about Adrian Parker? That’s not possible how did you come by it?”

“With all due respect sir, I’d like to know what exactly the reward is.” Ridnik said with little to no respect.

“You tell me what you want then you tell me what you know and I’ll tell you what you get.” Stratagus replied.

Ridnik grumbled something rude under his breath.

Stratagus laughed humorlessly.

“My reign is subjective to me, remember that.”   

Ridnik grimaced. He swallowed his pride, it tasted bitter and was chunky going down but he managed to choke out a plea with as much politeness as he could muster past the sick that threatened to erupt at the sound of his own tentative voice.

"Well I want one of those fancy cards you need...An escape visa." Ridnik said.

Stratagus enjoyed his visible discomfort and dismissed Ridnik's efforts with a laugh.

"What leaving so soon? Do you dislike my kingdom so?"

Ridnik bite back a retort, his teeth pressed hard against his tongue as he forced a smile.

"Oh go on you can say no. I've tried very hard to make the lives of you rats very miserable , yours especially , so I'd like to hear your woes it's praise to my ears. The more pathetically miserable and low you can dwindle it down do the more deliciously entertaining."

Ridnik grimaced, biting back a string of insults that he could not keep from his eyes or Roshell's thought- deciphering gaze.

"Oh my Ridnik, is that  what you think of us?" She crooned.

"Do share." Stratagus said, eyes fixed on Ridnik simply waiting for any excuse to torture him.

"Do you want to know what I've got or not?" Ridnik demanded.

Stratagus smirked.

"Rather what you think of me...proceed."

"Well, um...I don't know anything about Adrian Parker per say but I do know someone who....who knows exactly where he is."

Stratagus raised his eyebrows unamused, his stare cold.

"What would it mean to you if I brought you Adrian Parkers daughter?"

Stratagus froze for a pause before casting a questioning glance to Roshell. She studied Ridnik for a moment before confirming grudgingly.

"He's telling the truth. He has seen her."

"Why would he send his daughter?" Stratagus muttered thoughtfully resting his chin on his fist. The room fell silent. Roshell watched Stratagus eavesdropping on his hopeful thoughts. Ridnik stood like a dog waiting for a treat but too afraid to press the matter. However, as the silence grew longer Ridnik finally worked up the courage.

"You could ask her yourself." Ridnik suggested.

Stratagus looked him over with unmasked contempt and hostility.

"Fine. You win. Bring her to me and you will get what you want."

"What specifically will I get?" Ridnik asked pointedly.

"You'll get an escape visa."

Ridnik watched Stratagus suspiciously for a moment not allowing himself to believe the words but not wishing to hear them as lies. He grumbled something indecisive under his breath before he turned and limped out of the room.

"I'll be glad to see the back of him for good." Roshell spat as the door closed behind Ridnik. His absence did little to relieve the tension. It smarted like a fresh strike on an old wound, the bad blood still pulsing purple in the bruised veins.

Stratagus shook his head.

"He's not leaving here. I've made it a priority to return the favor and make his world a hellish prison I'm not about to end that. I said I'd give him an escape visa I didn't promise he'd live long enough to use it. He won't be free before me."       


The End

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