"Focus, Z. You're not going to get anywhere when you're thinking about something else."
"I'm focusing! I've been focusing for all of the past week, and I haven't gotten so much as a tiny result! I'm almost starting to think you're pulling an elaborate prank on me!"
Manni looked hurt.
"I'm just trying to help."
"Sorry." I muttered, "I haven't really been myself lately."
She looked at me curiously.
"Have you been spending a lot of time with Lucifer?" she asked, making each of her fingers disappear one by one.
"Yes? Maybe? Just to train."
"He tends to change people." Manni offered, "But don't worry, you'll get used to it."
"He changes people?" I asked incredulously, "He told me to my face that he took away my inhibitions."
"Hmm...interesting." she noted, before gesturing at the stage, "Try again."
"And we've implemented a patrol system. Maps are being drawn as we speak."
I nodded and Athena sat back down.
"Good work. Dionysus, how are the electronic records coming along?"
"I've managed to arrange a team of technology experts. Mainly hackers. If anyone can do it, they can."
"Keep me posted." I replied, "And you, sir?" I asked the mystery member of our council.
"I have assembled various strategists to advise the council on the matter of Purgatory. Their officials have sent no reply to our request to meet as of yet."
"Very well. Manni?"
She stood up, looking at her nails.
"We have surveys being conducted on our standing army and armory. I'll have numbers by the next meeting."
I nodded, closing the book in front of me.
"This meeting is adjourned."
The three gods in the room shimmered and disappeared, and Manni turned in her seat to watch me.
"Z, where's the prince?"
I tried not to let out a sound of annoyance.
"AWOL. He's probably still mad at me."
"I don't know. I hit a nerve or something. Why are guys so sensitive?"
She looked at me with her eyes narrowed.
"I shouldn't have to tell you this, but hell's future rests on how well you can run the army. Getting royalty mad at you probably isn't the best idea."
I cringed. She was right.
"So what do I do?"
"But I didn't do anything!"
"Men tend to think that they're always in the right. Sometimes it helps just to humour them."
"I guess you're right."
"I know I am. Now go and fix things."
I got up with a grunt and walked out of the room, my tail swinging behind me. I'd started to gain a bit of control over it, but not nearly enough.
I hunted around for Eversio for a bit and, quickly realizing the castle was way too big to search, looked for Bob instead. If anyone knew where the prince was, he did.
"Bob?" I asked in every room, sometimes getting myself stared at by random demons, "Bob, are you in here?"
Eventually I went out to the courtyard and sat on a crumbling bench.
DON'T LOOK NOW, BUT I THINK YOU JUST SAT IN SOMETHING.
"Bob?" I asked joyfully, "Is that you?"
HOW MANY OTHER DISEMBODIED VOICES DO YOU KNOW?
"Where were you?"
I FOLLOWED YOU HERE FROM THE COUNCIL MEETING.
"What? Why didn't you say anything?"
IT WAS TOO MUCH FUN WATCHING YOU MAKE A FOOL OF YOURSELF.
"Do you know where Eversio is?"
I WAS HOPING YOU WOULDN'T ASK THAT.
HE KIND OF TOLD ME NOT TO TELL ANYONE WHERE HE WAS.