Rodrick was having a breakfast meeting with some of his exec's to discuss the recurring problem of people defaulting on their loans. He came up with a truly ingenious solution, unavailable to any bank until now.
The Llama Clause.
Anyone who defaults on his or her loan, from this point on, will be turned into a llama. They will stay a llama until their loan has been paid off by producing enough wool, offspring, or both. They were discussing the fine print of the Llama Clause when Rodrick was paged by his security manager, "There's a situation, sir."
On one of the employee floors there was a room with crime scene tape across the door and Lucifer and his men arrived just after Rodrick. There had been a murder. One of the women that Rodrick had hired last week.
"What about her kid?" Rodrick asked.
"Well that's part of it, sir. The woman was found, gagged with duct tape, hands and feet bound with plastic zipstrips. She'd been placed on some plastic sheeting and her throat slit. Her three-year-old son, who had the other bed, is gone, so are all his personal items and the linens from the bed."
Rodrick examined the door and found no signs of forced entry. Rodrick left Lucifer's people examining the room and called Olivia. "I know I'm interrupting your morning, but I have a problem and I'm going to hurt someone really bad." Then he gave her quite the graphic description of just what he was going to do, including hanging the guilty parties by their intestines.
"Good for you!" Olivia told him. "But do it outside - so hard to get the carpets clean again."
"The problem is - I have to find them first," Rodrick told her.
"I'll be right there with my crystal ball." Then he called me and asked if I would join them. Olivia and I arrived at the same time Las Vegas Hilton did.
"Murder of an employee in the Overlord's residence, very interesting," he commented.
Rodrick described the boy to Olivia and she sat down to try to find him. While she was looking Rodrick asked me, "I know it's distasteful, but could you 'talk' to the woman?" I agreed, but thought Olivia should do her scrying first.
The view in the crystal ball took a long time to actually come into focus, and when it did it showed a headstone. The grave it marked was very old and the name on it - was not the name of the boy we were looking for. Olivia tried again. After a long search the crystal showed her almost total darkness. We could hear the sound of a vehicle moving quickly along a road and what had to be the slow, steady sound of someone sleeping.
She teleported herself to the vehicle but missed, landing in the road behind the truck. Now we could see that it was an old, modified UPS truck. She dusted herself off and tried the teleport again, this time landing in the road in front of the truck. The driver, a human man, probably in his 60's, saw her appear out of nowhere and slammed on his brakes. The truck swerved and stopped right before it went off the road. The driver climbed out of the truck and in very broken English asked Olivia if she was all right.
"I'm fine. Do you have a child in your truck?" she asked him.
Olivia went around to the back of the truck and opened the doors. There was a little boy there and when asked, he told Olivia that the driver of the truck was his papa. Outside of the truck, with enough light to actually see him, the boy looked nothing like the boy who was missing.
"And where's your mother?" Olivia asked him, racking her brain for all the Spanish she had ever picked up.
"Donde esta su Mama?"
"Mama es con Dios."
"With God, Huh? How long has she been gone? Por..quantos con Dios?"
Using a few words of English and some charades the man explained that the boy's mother had apparently Changed into a Drow ("Ella es una Diabla Negra") and left them. Finally, Olivia used some Magic so they could all understand each other. Just as she finished the boy asked, very clearly, "What is she doing, papa?"
"She's a devil and she is beseeching Satan for help."
"I am not!" Then she noticed the boy was wearing what looked like a Paris ID bracelet, "May I see your bracelet?" she asked the boy. He held his arm out for her to look at. It was indeed an employee's dependent ID bracelet with the correct name on it.
"Where did you get this?" Olivia asked Papa.
"From the angel."
"Si, she sang to us last night and gave this to the boy. She said it was a gift for keeping our hearts loyal and true." He explained that they had been driving and stopped about 3:00 am at an "oasis" to sleep for awhile, and that was where the angel appeared to them, "She was very beautiful, with large wings and there was a golden glow all around her."
Olivia asked if the angel had been wearing anything that looked like a lion's head over a pair of spears. She hadn't. Olivia also verified that neither the man nor his son had ever been to Vegas then she asked about the name on the bracelet.
"The angel said that God had decided that my son needed a new name and sent the angel to us to give him his new name."
Olivia thanked them for their time and returned to the Aladdin. She told Rodrick to get the other three women he hired when he hired the murdered woman, "And their kids, too." His security people informed him that they had already isolated them all and there were extra guards watching the children.
Before we left the room Olivia checked it for any residual magic that wasn't caused by her, and found that there was a faint remnant of a Sleep spell. We went to the office where the children were being watched and she checked them for magic. All of them had some, to a small degree. Trying to identify it took awhile, but she narrowed it down - it was a spell to prevent their location from being scryed. No wonder Olivia couldn't find the boy; it was very subtle and very well done.
"But simple - unsophisticated. Anyone scrying to find them will be 'sent' to the nearest person that matches the description."
Then we went to speak to the mothers. Each one had been put into a separate room. First thing Olivia did was to check them for magic. It was there - in the form of altered memories on all of them.
Rodrick started the interview. "When and where did you meet the other woman who came to Vegas with you?"
They explained that they had all met while working at a camp and they worked together to escape, "We all had kitchen duty one night, we knocked the guards out, stole a vehicle and escaped. We were in the middle of the desert when the truck broke down; fortunately a traveling merchant came by, took pity on us and brought us here." All true, according to Olivia's ring. Or at least all true as they remembered it.
Rodrick asked them for the name of the merchant - none could come up with it. "How about a description," he tried. Again, nothing. Just to be safe, he called for extra security for the two rooms, distressing the women. "No, it's to protect you. We think someone might try to harm you," he explained.
Olivia set to dispelling the Magic on the woman. It worked and the woman looked suddenly alarmed, "What did you do?"
"I removed a spell that had been placed on you - it was affecting your memory."
"Of course it was - we're in hiding! Put it back!"
"Some people were really pissed at us because we escaped so we arranged to have a Mage hide us. It took all the money we had." At least that was the truth, finally!
Rodrick said to her, "Look. We are in a very bad situation here. Someone was killed in my casino, so it's my responsibility to find out who did it and why."
"It wasn't me! We're trying to lay low - killing someone would attract attention!"
"You should have told me the truth," Rodrick said, "I would have protected you. Now tell me, who are you hiding from?"
"The fathers of the children."
"Who are they?" Olivia asked.
"I think his name was George." Olivia didn't like that answer and demanded a straight answer. "The truth is - I can't honestly say that I remember the name of the father of my child," the woman said.
Rodrick said to her, "I normally a patient man - but I'm getting pissed. If you don't cooperate I'll be forced to take extreme action. Olivia, could you dispel the magic on all of the women and the children?"
"You can't do that!" the woman yelled. "Look - we're fugitives - they'll find us."
"Who?" Olivia asked.
"The fathers of our children," the woman repeated. (Truthfully.) "If they find us they'll hurt us - probably kill us and then take the children.
"Oh, they've already killed one of you and taken a child."
Then Olivia asked the woman, "Are you the biological mother?"
"I am the child's mother."
"Are you the biological mother?"
"The child is mine."
"Are you the biological mother?"
"He is my son."
"Are you the biological mother?"
Rodrick stepped in, "Who are you running from and where can we find them?"
"I don't know and I don't care where he his."
"Where did you come from?" Olivia asked.
Rodrick waved Hilton into the room and asked, "This woman was hired using false pretensions, what is the penalty for that?"
"That's up to you, the Overlord who was deceived," Hilton said.
The women begged that Rodrick not throw them all out, "Think of the children!"
That mad him angry, "We will take care of the children, don't worry."
"I am the only mother he knows. Don't separate us!"
"Level with us and we can help you," Olivia told her.
"Help? By removing the magic that was protecting us?"
Rodrick said, "Tell me names and where they are, then we'll put the spell back on."
"The father is George Rickert, I'm not sure if he's still alive, but his family hates me because we never married and they want my son." She want on to explain she'd come from Montana and George was just the last in a long line of abusive relationships. "So I finally took my son, tried to avoid everything else from my past and ended up in Utah. The only place that would take me in demanded that I 'work off' my food and board. Then out of the blue - George showed up, looking for his son."
Rodrick asked if the other women had come from Montana as well. The woman shrugged.
"I have no idea - we met at the camp - ask them, if I get something wrong you'll probably hang me for it."
"Tell us more about this George."
"He's a mage - doesn't have much power until he gets angry - then you'd better watch out."
"Do you know the name of the missing boy's father?"
"David Simmons and as far as I know the fathers or their families want the children back and all of us dead. We made some bad decisions, like lying to get hired on here, but it was fear that made us do it. Fear for our lives, for what will happen to our children. We shouldn't have lied, and now I'm asking for your protection."
"Now that's more like it," Rodrick allowed.
Olivia nodded, "You really should have done that from the beginning - we enjoy kicking people's asses."
The woman asked, "Please don't take the spells off the others - they make it harder for 'them' to find us. Can I go see my son now?" Rodrick asked two of his men to take her to see him and sent another to find a mage capable of removing her memory again. His man was back shortly with a weaselly-looking guy. He started out by fawning obsequiously for Rodrick - I guess he hadn't gotten the memo that Rodrick can't stand that.
"I understand you want someone to forget who they are? Can you pay me?" Weasel. Fawn. Grovel. Sponge.
"I do and I can," Rodrick said and explained what was needed.
Oily Weasel said, "I'll give you a 100,000 for both the woman and the boy - then you won't have to worry about the problem."
"And I could waste a bullet on you," Rodrick countered.
"Very well, Lord Paris, but you just let me know if I can ever do anything 'special' for you." We left the weasel with Rodrick's security people and went back upstairs to 'talk' to the dead women.
"Who killed you?" I asked.
"I don't know. There was a pillow over my face when I woke - I couldn't see a thing."
"What else?" I asked Rodrick and Olivia.
Rodrick asked, "Who is the father of your son?"
"Where are you originally from?" he asked.
"Why would his family be after you?" Olivia asked.
"They want my child. They weren't going to let me keep him - so I ran."
Olivia asked, "Do they intend to harm him?"
"No. They would never harm a child of their own family but they will raise him to be one of 'them'."
"And what are they?" Olivia asked.
"Rapists, murders, torturers, thieves, should I go on?"
Olivia asked one last question, "Where are they based?"
"Utah. Bryce Canyon." I thanked the woman for her help and sent her on her way.
Olivia turned back to her crystal ball, using the name David Simmons. The crystal showed her a man. He was fishing. In a small river - the terrain looked like it could have been the Utah canyon lands. There were six or seven women, all wearing dresses that covered them from chin to foot, working in the background - cleaning fish, mending nets, herding children. And there were a lot of children. The older ones were working, too.
Up and down river there were other groups (families?) working in and alongside the river. All of the men had a really 'rough' look to them and had whips attached to their belts and the women herding the children were doing so with switches to encourage any child who might dawdle at a task. I noticed something interesting - there were children of all ages - but there wasn't a single girl over the age of puberty. After getting a good look at the guys, Rodrick called for the security video tapes around the time of the murder.
His people told him that the only things of interest on them were three people in an elevator. Two of them were people just getting off their shifts and they got off the elevator at different floors. The third was a woman who was on break and returned to her room, on the floor where the murder had taken place, apparently changed clothes and went back to work in the laundry. Olivia suggested that Rodrick have her brought up for questioning.
Then she asked Hilton, "If we don't apprehend the killer, would Lord Paris be in legal trouble?"
Hilton shook his head, "No, but it is bad P.R. - an Overlord who can't protect his people?"
A few minutes later, one of Rodrick's men escorted the girl into the office. She was visibly shaking. We put her in the comfy chair. Rodrick sweated her for a moment, then gave her a thin smile. "So," Rodrick said, "how are you?"
"How am I? I'm nervous. Last night I got yelled at for being late to work. Is this about that?"
"No, not at all," Rodrick said. "Do you remember meeting the woman who was in the room a few doors down from yours? The one with the little boy?"
"Yes. I babysat her son one night when she had a date."
"She had a date? When?" Olivia asked.
"A few nights ago - it was set up by the matchmaking program here. She said she was trying to get onto one of Lord Paris' farms." Olivia nodded - the girl was telling the truth.
"Can you tell me anything about the guy she went out with?" Rodrick asked.
"No - but the H.R. people could."
"Not that kind of info," Rodrick said, "You know - 'girlie gossip'. C'mon "
"She said she had a good time."
"A really good time?" Rodrick asked.
The girl blushed, "I won't say but I saw her hair when she came back. If you know what I mean."
Olivia winked at her, "Did she know the guy before coming here?"
"No, it was the first time they'd met."
"And where are you from?" Olivia asked.
"Barstow," the girl half whispered. "But I don't like to talk about it - I ran away from some trouble there."
"I understand" Olivia assured her. Then she leaned in real close to the girl and stage-whispered, "So, you didn't slit her throat and grab her kid last night, did you?"
The girl went snow-white and gulped, "I'm gonna be sick."
"Answer yes or no," Olivia insisted. The girl jumped up, ran to the corner where she puked in a waste basket.
"Is the boy dead?" she asked when she was done.
"He's missing," Olivia told her.
"And you think I did it?"
"We're just asking," Rodrick said. She doubled over and puked again.
"Please don't send me away," she begged.
"Did you have anything to do with it?" Olivia asked. The girl was holding her breath and shook her head. "Answer the question!" Olivia yelled.
"I was at work all night," the girl insisted.
"But you were late for your shift," Rodrick reminded her.
"Oh my God! I had opportunity!" She puked again.
Rodrick asked Olivia if there was any Magic on the girl. Olivia tested and there was.
"It's my ring!" the girl said in a rush, "it's all I have!"
Olivia ordered her to remove it and the girl complied. There was no more magic on her after that. Olivia said to her, "I want a yes or a no - were you involved in that woman's death?"
"I had nothing to do with it." The truth.
Olivia asked her, "So what does that ring do?"
The girl got even paler, "Birth control. I do some 'work' on the side. I'm unlicensed and spent all the money I'd earned on the ring. I can pay you back sometime, Lord Aladdin!"
Rodrick said gently, "I don't like my people lying to and dissing my fellow Overlords, no more working on the side until you can afford a proper license."
"Yes Lord Paris!" I made a note to myself to buy the girl a license.
Rodrick sent the girl on her way and to escape the smell of the mess she'd made we went to H.R rather than having them come to us. We were directed to the matchmakers - the sweetest looking group of yentas you'd ever want to see. The let us look at the dead woman's file while they located who'd gone on the date with her and while looking at it I spotted something curious.
Once upon a time, Before, when I worked for the United Way, I organized a blood drive - one of the big, corporate one-upmanship things where all the CEOs try to suck their employees dry just to win bragging rights. Anyway, there was a little brouhaha when someone discovered that their blood type wasn't possible, considering her 'parents' blood types - turns out the gal was adopted and didn't know it. Anyway, after that, I did some research on the subject. Looking at the mother's blood type, there was no way that that boy could be her son. I'd just finished telling Olivia and Rodrick when the women came up with the file for the woman's date. He's a worker out on one of Rodrick's farms, was divorced, Before, and had no real particulars he was looking for in a woman.
Suddenly the whole building shook. Even I knew it was an explosion. Some where down below us. Fire alarms went off and then the power cut off. Then the second explosion occurred. We ran down the stairs, with very faint emergency lights to guide us (or Rodrick, actually). On the lower level, doors had been blasted from their hinges in the area where the three women were being kept. Rodrick drew his guns and entered, Olivia and I followed.
We saw smoke and body parts - the women. All of them, we were pretty sure. Then we went to the room where the kids had been. Inside we found a couple of Rodrick's security people, dead. With them were five dead children.
But they were the wrong children. They were wearing the same clothes - but they were not the same children. All had been dead for some time - a few of them had been dead for quite some time. Apparently whoever had planned this hadn't planned on the fire suppression systems in the area, or they were counting on one more explosion. We searched the place, and, under a table, Rodrick spotted another explosive device. Some sticks of dynamite taped together with a Radio Shack timer attached to them. A timer that was ticking down.
"You might want to run," Rodrick said. Olivia and I did just that.
He casually walked out of the room a few moments later, "It's disarmed, and we're good." He found something to wrap it in and a bag to carry it all in. We went back in to take a closer look at the corpses. One of the children looked like he had died in an auto accident; a couple others looked to have been ravaged by animals (I could only hope that it was after they had died).
Rodrick suddenly smacked himself in the head, "We should have removed the anti-scry spell from at least one of the kids - then we'd be able to find them!"
More of his security people showed up and shooed us out of the area - the walls and ceilings weren't looking real secure. Rodrick agreed to go but told one of them to get the ID's of those killed so he could contact their next of kin.
Upstairs and out of the smoke; Olivia used the crystal to scry the other father we knew by name, George Rickert. He wasn't in Utah, he was in North Vegas in an abandoned house. He was talking into a small mirror that looked a lot like the signaling devices we have to contact the Kingdom.
He said to it, "Circumstances made us move things up. That depends on you. The Grace of God has gotten us this far, sir."
Olivia teleported the three of us into the house, Rodrick had a gun ready and placed it against George's head. "Continue talking or you die," he whispered.
The person on the other end of the mirror asked, "George? What's wrong?"
"Nothing, just a quick question, sir, let me get some details and I'll call you back." Then George turned to Rodrick; "You are making a mistake."
Rodrick snorted. "I'm making a mistake? That was my hotel you just bombed and one of the women you killed named you as the father of her son. Said that you would kill her to get him back."
George said, "I don't do real well with a gun to my head."
"You seem to do okay with explosions and killing innocent people," Olivia pointed out.
Rodrick told him that he'd remove the gun if George agreed to be 'reasonable'. He agreed and explained that for the last week or so he'd been watching us, and had heard stories of what we were capable of. "When I learned where she had gone for protection I had to find out how to move against you. I had to do it, I had to get my son back and I didn't care who stood in my way."
Rodrick said, "There are legal ways to do such things, unless you have no legal claim to the boy. The Cats absolutely love children, you know."
"So they want you to believe," George said. "They eat children. That's what gives them their powers: the blood of Christian children. They were never white tigers, they were Jews. Jews being rewarded for their services. Who do you bow down to?"
"No one," Rodrick said, "and you?"
"The Lord God," George practically yelled. Olivia snatched the mirror from his hand and began to search the room. George continued to rant at Rodrick and I (really just Rodrick - he completely ignored me), "Those women had a choice to return the children. We would have replaced the ones they lost but they chose to take ours. What would you have done?"
"I would have chosen legal means," Rodrick said.
"Legal? There is no such thing here in Sodom and Gomorrah!"
Rodrick nodded, "Right - you Mormons were never big fans of Vegas."
George barked a laugh, "Mormons! They sold out the true Deseret years ago."
"Ah, NDR?" Olivia asked.
"Those blasphemers?" George seemed insulted. "You made an error when you gave shelter to the sinners who stole those children."
Rodrick said, "We didn't know they'd been stolen and the children never said anything, never complained."
"Of course not - they're brains had been stolen."
Rodrick asked if he'd been working with David on this plan.
"So who's the angel?" Rodrick inquired.
"The angel is The Angel. You'll meet The Angel when the time comes." I didn't much like the sound of that.
Olivia said, "Oh, shoot him."
"Yes," George agreed, "martyr me, please."
Rodrick had a better idea, "No - put him on trial, at least until I think of something better." Then he said to George, "You've already admitted your guilt."
"I admit to returning children to their loving family."
"You admitted to killing those people in my hotel," Rodrick reminded him.
"I admit to raising my hand to those who would stand in my way." Well, Rodrick had heard enough and shot George once, right between the eyes.
"Thank you!" Olivia said. The mirror she was holding began to beep; she opened it up and said, "Yeah?" Before the connection was cutoff she saw an elderly man with a full, white beard. Olivia turned to her crystal to locate him. She located him in a wood-paneled room and we saw that he was casting some sort of magic. Before he could be lost, Olivia teleported the three of us to that room.
He saw us and dove for a gun on his desk. Rodrick fired once and moved the gun out of his reach.
The man straightened up, turned to look at us and said, "None of this will avail you."
Rodrick waived towards a chair, "Have a seat, please."
The man did, "There is nothing for you here, demons." Olivia used a small Magic to see what sort of Magic the old man had used and she got zapped by a little bolt of lightning for her effort. "Maybe not quite 'nothing'," the old man smiled. "This place is sealed. The more Power you use, the more Power you will feel."
Rodrick raised his gun, "And if I kill you, your magic dies with you."
The old man shrugged. "Then why are you waiting, Philistine? Strike me down. I gladly die for these people."
Olivia tried one of the easiest spells she could think of and got zapped, again.
The old man smiled again and said, "You have trespassed on sanctified ground - Holy ground."
Olivia asked him, "Do you have any ill intentions against Las Vegas?"
"If I could smite it from the face of the earth - I would gladly do so."
"That would be a yes," Olivia muttered.
"And I pray that the wrath of God will grant it so, someday."
While he was ranting, I pulled a very small amount of Power to dispel his Magic and was struck with a very powerful bolt of lightning. The old man laughed out loud. "Yes! Call on your demon friend to rescue you!"
When I was able I warned Olivia not to do anything in Crom's name - or she could be seriously hurt. So she went with the old stand by - a good swift kick in the balls. Unfortunatly her foot got caught on the rug and she missed. The old man laughed again (that was really getting on my nerves, by the way), "Just like you feminazis to try to un-man a man." So she Glocked him right between the eyes.
That made me happy - I hate being called a feminist; it makes me mad.
But his spell did not die with him. In fact, as he died there was a clash of thunder - inside the room - and it began to rain - inside the room.
Rodrick moved to the door and gave it a great kick - and was thrown backwards by a small bolt of lightning. Undaunted, he pulled his axe and swung at the door. A bolt of lightning appeared, ran up and down the axe and held him in place - until the voltage forced him to drop the axe. He was really mad now and told Olivia and I to get under the desk. We did and he picked up the old man's body and chucked it at the one window in the room.
It bounced off the window, causing no damage. At least Rodrick didn't take any damage either. He got another idea and tentatively tried to use his Healing tattoo. It didn't work, but there was no lightning, either.
In the meantime, the water level in the room was beginning to rise and we could see men gathering to watch us at the window. Olivia and I gave them a jaunty wave and Rodrick held up the old man's corpse by the nape of its neck.
Olivia tried to send a message to Karyn ordering her to research Deseret powers, ASAP. She was zapped and wasn't sure if the message got thru or not.
Then a man got right up to the window; it was David Simmons. "How long can you all tread water?" he yelled. There was a LOT of laughter form outside at that.
Rodrick was fuming. "Get behind the desk!" he barked. Olivia and I ducked beneath it (and into the water) as he pulled out his Desert Eagle and fired several shots at the window. The bullets slowed until they finally came to a complete stop mere inches from the window. Rodrick got right up to the window and fired again - and again the bullets stopped before hitting the window.
I sent a plea to Corellon for some guidance and got zapped. Olivia sent a plea to Crom and got zapped. But we got answers!
"This is entertaining," Crom said. "I do hope you get out, but I can't intervene."
Corellon's reply was an indignant, "How dare they!" He explained that the more directly He acted on my behalf the more Power would be directed against me. "It is best if the respective deities stay out of this."
We traded advisements and were pondering what to do next when we all remembered something: Rodrick still had that dynamite! He helped us move the desk as far away from the door as possible and then rigged the device to blow the door outwards. By the time he was done the water in the room was at knee level. He joined us behind the desk and we waited.
Just as the dynamite exploded, Rodrick took the biggest bolt yet. When the smoke from it and the explosion cleared, the door was gone and the water was rushing out of the room. Now Rodrick's healing tattoos worked and Olivia and I took the opportunity to do a little healing on ourselves.
When we walked thru the door the men outside began to scatter. Olivia felled most of them with a pain-web spell before they got too far. The women and children had come up from the river to see what was going on and when one of the men managed to get up, staggering to his feet, one of the women closed in and slit his throat with a fishing knife.
Taking her cue, others picked up rocks or, using the knives previously used to gut fish, they finished off all the men. When they were done the oldest women approached us, "What church are you from?"
"Crom," Olivia said.
"Tempest," said Rodrick.
The woman just looked puzzled.
"We're from Vegas," Olivia said.
"So Satan really is more powerful," the woman said. "But what does God want us to do now?"
"Respect each other," Olivia said, "and think for yourselves."
Rodrick suggested that they ask Him what He wanted.
"We couldn't do that!"
"We are not worthy to speak to Him," she said as if explaining water is wet. Then more women began to arrive - young attractive women and girls still in their teens. All wore chains and most had bruises, cuts and burns.
One, carrying a cattle prod stepped even closer, "Did you do this?"
"Which 'this'?" Olivia asked.
"The blown up door, knocking all these men unconscious or killing them all?" Rodrick asked.
"And why do you ask?" Olivia wondered.
One of the women, standing near the back yelled out, "Miriam! Don't speak to them! They are agents of Satan!"
Miriam sneered back, "Enough was done to me in the name of God. I don't care if they are agents of Satan! I embrace them! They could do nothing worse than has already been done." So Olivia asked Miriam if she wanted to go back to Vegas with us. "Fine. Whatever. Just get me the Hell out of here," she responded. So we asked if anyone else wanted to go. There were no takers.
Before we left, Rodrick addressed the women and suggested that they go ahead and speak to God, "He may surprise you." Then Olivia popped us back to her office at the Aladdin (since the Paris was a mess).
There were some people waiting for us. The first was Karyn - she was sort of 'frozen' in place. As was the woman we'd brought with us from Utah. Then there was a creature, probably eight feet tall, that was ringed in smoke and flames.
On the opposite side of the room from it was an angel. All dressed in white. It could have been human or Elven, male or female. Its wings were folded neatly, thank goodness - it was kind of crowded. Lastly, sitting behind Olivia's desk with her feet up, sipping Olivia's brandy, was a human woman dressed in a black leather mini skirt, black leather thigh-high stiletto-heeled boots, and a black leather bustier.
The angel spoke first, "You interrupted a perfectly planned community!"
"They shouldn't have fucked with us," Olivia said. The angel snapped its fingers in Olivia's face.
The demon laughed at that, "Wussy, wussy wussy!" Then it said to Rodrick, Olivia and I, "I am here to deliver a substantial bribe if you allow us to have that territory."
Olivia said to the three of them, "I'm pretty sure none of you have an appointment." She pointed at Karyn, "And let her go."
Bustier Gal spoke up. "I did that. She's fine as she is. She's got quite the mouth."
"And you're here to ?"
She waved the brandy, "I'm just here to mediate."
Then a Gold Elf suddenly appeared in the room. She looked to be about fourteen years old or so and was dressed from head to toe in pink. A little, pink Elf princess. "Sorry I'm late! Count me in for neutrality," she piped.
Olivia said, "Let me get this straight. Deseret?" and she pointed to the angel. It nodded.
She pointed to the demon, "Satan?" It agreed with her.
She turned to the Gold Elf, "Corellon?" "Right!" she piped, again.
Olivia turned last to Bustier Gal. "And you? Crom?"
Bustier raised her brandy in a salute. "I was sent to explain that the old guy was using a Divine Favor against you. That's allowed these others to intervene."
Rodrick said, "I gotta go with the neutrality idea, too."
Demon raised an eyebrow, snapper its fingers and suddenly Rodrick was surrounded by beautiful women, guns and stacks of money, "Are you sure?" Rodrick assured it that he was quite sure and the girls, guns and money faded away.
"Why do they need us to determine what happens to them?" Olivia wondered aloud.
"They are spoken for!" Angel roared.
"By an asshole," Rodrick pointed out. The Angel snapped its fingers again and informed us that it had placed a censorship spell on the whole room. We tested it and every swear word that we said was bleeped!
I said, "Can we cut to the chase here? We're all going to vote for neutrality, end of conversation."
Bustier looked at me and said, "Nicely said! Do you want to convert?"
"She is doing precisely what she was told to do," the Princess said huffily.
"Told to?" I asked but got no answer.
Rodrick had walked over to the angel and was giving it a look over; "You are freaking me out. Are you a man or a woman?"
That ruffled Angel's feathers a bit, "I don't have to tell you." Demon laughed and explained to Rodrick that they were both and yet neither. Angel snapped at Demon, telling it that there was no need to be sharing such information.
"These two are great! Can we invite them for dinner?" I asked.
"They're definitely more fun that those NDR people were," Olivia agreed.
"What about a talk show? Jim would love you," I said.
Rodrick and Olivia quizzed the demon about Hell for awhile. Pretty interesting stuff. Bustier finally cut in. "So neutrality it is?" She explained further that since Divine Favor had been used against us, we had the right, as the injured parties, to determine which of the divine powers involved in the altercation would be awarded dominion over the area. If we all would forgive that offense to our free will, neutrality will be the rule for that area and the people in it would have free will, and all would be back to the desired status quo. We all agreed: neutrality!
Demon shrugged. "We'll win them in the end. The House Percentage is weighted in our favor," and it disappeared in a puff of rank smoke. Uggh! So THAT'S what brimstone smells like!
Angel insisted, "They belong to us!" and vanished in a huff and a cloud of frankincense.
Princess curtsied, "Not if Corellon has anything to say about it," and she was gone. No cloud of smoke for her, just a bunch of tinkling sparkles of light.
That left Bustier Gal and Rodrick asked her, "You're not going to do the Men in Black thing and flashy-thing us are you?"
"Do you want to remember all this?" she seemed surprised.
"Yes! Besides, if we tell anyone, who would believe us?" Rodrick asked.
She shrugged "Very well, but may I make a suggestion? Next time, try taking some backup."
"No, no, no! We couldn't do that!" I laughed.
"No, not our style," Olivia agreed.
"Backup? That's for wusses," Rodrick said.
Bustier Gal laughed. "That's why it's so much fun watching you - we never know what you're going to do next." Then she was gone. Karyn and the woman from Utah 'unfroze' at that very instant.
Karyn was most put out about the intruders in Olivia's office. "Where did they go? And when did you get here? Why are you all wet? And who the Hell is that? Another stray?"
Olivia ignored the first question and explained that we just returned and yes, we'd brought another stray with us. Karyn was still put out and went on a rant about the hotel needing another mage to handle problems when Olivia wasn't available and Olivia agreed to hire one.
So with Karyn calmed down, Olivia asked the newest stray, "Which den of Satan do you want to live in? This is the Aladdin, I own it, and Rodrick there owns the Paris."
"If you choose, we have an 'in' with the guy who owns the Excalibur," Rodrick told her.
She was a little overwhelmed and said that she didn't care, "I just don't want anymore torture and defilement."
"Okay," I said, "we can do that. Do you like kids?"
"That would be my torture and defilement?" she asked.
"No, that would be your job. You can get tortured and defiled on your own time. I have a daycare center here at the Aladdin, it always need help," I explained.
Then Olivia told her that all three of us had an assortment of jobs to offer her and that she had a choice but she had to choose one, "You have to earn your keep." So she agreed to try the daycare and Karyn took her to find a room.
Rodrick thanked us for the fun-filled day and excused himself to return to the Paris to check on the damage. As he was trying to leave, though, Lucifer and Hilton were coming in to ask if we'd found who was responsible for the death and destruction.
"Oh yeah, we did," Rodrick said and told him about the house we'd found and our trip to Utah. We left a few things out. Lucifer nodded when we finished, then stood up to leave.
"Excellent," he purred. "Wrapped up in a matter of hours with a very nice body count. I'll have one of my people prepare a statement for Bellagio. You'll have final approval, of course." They headed out, and we called it a night.