• Published 12th Apr 2016
  • 14,953 Views, 12,558 Comments

Three More Things! - Tatsurou



Uncle Chan tries to balance running an antique shop, fighting demons, and being a Chi Wizard with being a loving Uncle to his nephew, his somewhat removed niece...and three little ponies who drive him straight up the wall.

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Friends on the Other Side

Valmont sat back in front of the mirror, waiting for Shendu's response. After a telling amount of time, Shendu finally responded, "I can."

"Then do so," Valmont directed immediately. "Before we move for the portals - or even attempt to open the box - we need to discuss a few things. Strategies, capabilities...terms." He smiled softly. "After all, if I've been hired to do this job, I want to be sure I have all the details I need."

"I can tell you-"

"And I don't deal with middle-men, Shendu," Valmont interrupted. "You aren't the client here, since you have no power to pay for my services. It will be your siblings who reward me when the job is done, so it is them I will discuss these terms with."

"I like him already, my siblings," a hissing, purring voice suddenly spoke from the mirror as a pale blue-white face with mer characteristics appeared, shortly followed by others.

Valmont gave a courtly half-bow from his seated position. "I aim to please, my lady. Might you honor me with your name?"

"And a gentleman!" the largest green face proclaimed warmly. "You made a good choice here, Shendu...for once."

It wasn't long before each of the Demons had introduced themselves, and Valmont could put a name to each face, since he had only faces to work from. He then focused on Tso Lan. "Correct me if I'm mistaken, but from how you all speak - both to each other and to me - I believe you are the one who holds the most authority in your family. I suspect you are the eldest?"

"Not entirely accurate," Tso Lan corrected, his face tilting obliquely. "However, if you are asking for the one who holds the most trust amongst our band - and thus the one who would oversee any group negotiations - then yes, that would be me."

Valmont nodded. "I am glad to hear it. Negotiating one to one is far more efficient than attempting to do so via committee. And now, before negotiations actually begin...should events result in the only available action left being resuming your chosen torment to Shendu for his betrayal, would that do harm to my body or soul if he's still bound to me?"

"He actually told you about that?" Dai Gui growled in surprise. "He's more desperate than I thought!"

"Oh, he didn't have to tell me," Valmont replied, waving one hand dismissively. "His hesitance to get in contact with you all told me on its own. Besides, I did have dealings with him for well over a decade. I know his character."

Tso Lan's expression didn't change - given the odd shape of his mouth, it would be impossible to tell if it had - but Valmont got the impression from his eyes that he was grinning. "A mind such as yours is rare amongst humans, and a valuable asset. I can guarantee that within the month, the spells of torment shall be altered in such a way that you will experience no harm from their use, even if Shendu is still bound to you."

Valmont grinned widely. "In that case, I think I might want to delay opening any portals for a month and stock up on popcorn!" he joked, causing Shendu's eyes to widen in terror as his siblings burst into uproarious laughter.

"Brother, once we are free, can I have this one?" Bai Tsa purred eagerly to Tso Lan. "He is most entertaining, and it has been eons since I've observed a mortal I judged even remotely worthy."

To his surprise, Valmont found himself blushing. While his position as head of a crime cartel meant he had the money and power to attract plenty of possible female companionship - and his looks were such that he could draw such on their own merits - those had always had him in the position of power for the 'negotiations'. A demoness capable of controlling the oceans themselves - as he understood Bai Tsa's power - asking if she could keep him was...a very different experience. "I...I'm honored by such high regard," he finally managed to stammer out, tugging at his shirt collar. "And I would be overjoyed to discuss such arrangements...after your successful release has been arranged, and I am free of...awkward hangerons for such negotiations." He gestured obliquely at the silhouette of Shendu's horn.

"Agreed," Tso Lan spoke up firmly, a turned gaze silencing Bai Tsa even if she was visibly pouting.

To Valmont's surprise, he felt a message directly into his mind from Po Kong. You made quite the impression on Bai, she murmured in his mind. She hadn't been this bubbly over someone new since she was a teenager. Keep things up, and I expect your 'reward' for services from her might turn out to be more than just wealth or power.

Valmont did his best to school his expression as Tso Lan continued the discussion. "Now then, what is there to discuss? Our wishes are straightforward, as are the terms. You free us, we will reward you."

"And that's where the issue comes in," Valmont spoke up. "Aligned against us is a highly skilled Chi Wizard of Daolong Wong's...acquaintance, three powerful if immature Qi Lin, a skilled martial artist who possesses a recently crafted magical weapon, and as yet unknown government related magical resources to draw on...not to mention a fully manifest Dryadic familiar and two other skilled warriors. Or, to put it in other terms, we're dealing with a ragtag band of heroes touched by destiny." He interlaced his fingers. "To be blunt, I don't like our odds."

"You don't strike me as the sort to throw in the towel so easily," Tso Lan pointed out as the other demon heads in the mirror growled back and forth to each other.

"I'm not," Valmont confirmed, "but I'm also not the sort to be reckless. I make plans, and to make plans I need to know what resources are at my disposal, and how cooperative those I'm working with will be. And that leads me to one major question." He stared Tso Lan straight in the eyes. "How many of you are capable of assuming a human form?"

He was rather surprised that this question was greeted with dead silence. Tso Lan finally spoke up. "It is your intention that we hide?" he growled out angrily.

"It is my intention that we are successful in freeing you all," Valmont corrected. "That means not confronting the Chans and their allies until we have overwhelming force on our side...which means having all of you free. If you can assume human forms, it will be very easy to hide you from their eyes...especially since they'll expect you to be unwilling to do so."

"Your conclusion, however unpleasant, is accurate," Tso Lan concluded. "Very well. What are these terms you wished to discuss?"

"Simple," Valmont explained. "I will arrange each of your release. So long as you follow my directives as far as keeping you from being banished by the Chans, I will guarantee you will remain free. Once all the portals have been opened, whoever has managed to remain free by those dictates will owe me a payment from wherever their personal treasuries are stored. If that's all of you, this will also include releasing Shendu from his bonds to me...though what you do with him after that is none of my concern."

"And if we refuse to abide by these terms?" Hsi Wu snapped out angrily.

Valmont grinned as he leaned back in his chair. "Then the Pan'ku Box gets locked up where only the Dark Hand will have access, and I stock up on popcorn. I leave the decision up to all of you."

Silence greeted this assertion. "...we will discuss these terms and get back to you," Tso Lan concluded finally. The faces of the Demon Sorcerers vanished one by one.

Bai Tsa vanished last of all...shooting Valmont a smile and a flirtatious wink before she did.

"Goodness," Valmont murmured as the magic faded from the room and Daolong Wong let himself start breathing again. "I seem to have made...quite the impression on Bai Tsa."

"Hope you like drowning," Shendu growled out petulantly.

"Daolong Wong," Valmont called out, "do be a good sport and research a way to magically give me gills and deep ocean pressure resistance, just in case such things slip the lady's mind?"

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