I don’t particularly feel like listening to Ansu talk, but he hasn’t exactly given me a choice in the matter. He’s a slippery bastard, and he’s always got his greedy little fingers embedded in some pies – there’s always something he’s looking to steal, or something he’s procured that’s resulted in a bit more heat than he would prefer.

Funny how a demon finds themselves in that sort of predicament from time to time; it’s a dilemma that they put themselves in long before I was ever around, and it will no doubt be the thorn in someone else’s hind-side long after I’m gone. He’s trying to pawn it off on me now, but the kicker is that I’m not all that interested in the cursed belongings of dead kings. I’ll take a bottle of cheap bourbon over the animosity of one-hundred one dead souls. But then what’s one-hundred one more added on top of however many others looking to settle a score with ol’ John?

So I’m entertaining his offer, but I’m not thrilled about where it will lead me if I accept.

Ansu is criticizing the stained glass, and I’m spending the Silk Cut by absorbing the noxious smoke down into my lungs. Flakes of ash float about, joining with my exhale as I listen to him drone on about how Sumerian architecture was a superior aesthetic in comparison to the Roman-Catholic churches.

“Don’t blame me for your disgust.” I tell the bastard, rolling my eyes as I pull the cigarette away from my mouth to scratch at my cheek with the same hand. As the smoke mingles with my eye, I squint. “You’re the one who chose holy ground for the meeting.”

I’m not one to say his name in conversation, and that’s purposeful.

For starters, I understand the power inherent in names, especially with regards to demonology. Something about the vanity of the beasts allows them to draw and seat power by hearing their own names and titles uttered out loud – it’s what invokes them during the use of Goetia, their names chanted alongside the presence of the many ingredients and instruments attributable to them. Ansu’s just so happen to be feathers, unceremoniously “borrowed” items, and time-pieces.

Secondly, I know just how badly it pisses him off when I never address him by name. Sometimes, you’ve got to take the thrills wherever you can get them, otherwise the day may not be worth living.

“I assumed it would be more comforting for you,” the demon feigns a fondness for my well-being while clinging to the shadows around the altar, “a place like this.”

“Furniture’s a bit stiff.” I gesture towards the pews, and shrug my shoulders as I step down the aisle. “Could have done this at a pub if you were worried about my comfort, mate. Didn’t have to do it at all if you really cared. But I appreciate the half-ass sentiment.”

“It’s the thought that counts, yes?” Ansu asks, laughter in his voice.

People sit around doing nothing all day long about the travesties and the causes that originated with them. They donate money a bit here and a bit there to cast off their guilt and go about their business care-free. Some do the bare minimum by folding their hands and bowing their heads for a minute or two. It’s why I’ve never really considered the thought to count for much of anything. It helps people sleep at night, but it doesn’t do much good in the end.

While Ansu picks himself up from beside the alter, the shadows leave his demonic silhouette and his unholy visage is suppressed by the man-like shape void of wings and hooves. His golden eyes dim a bit, but he can’t completely hide what’s behind the mask. One would think that the street-light coming in through the stained glass might have singed him, but the red tone of his skin is only a portion of his poor disguise as a human.

Like the majority of his kind, Ansu is hardly bothered by the many empty homes of God or by the countless half-measure prayers being cast out into the heavens. But as I approach the altar, he hesitates to take a step back. Bastard to bastard, I’m someone Ansu fears.