The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 28

The call of a mortal to a demon great or small was dependent on the degree to which the caller knew the demon’s name. Zeus’ name wasn’t only Zeus. It was also Jupiter and ten thousand more words of power and legend. The larger and more powerful the demon, the longer and more complex the name. If the caller, be they mortal or demonic, had enough of the name, they could compel a demon, force it into a container of their choosing and make it obey them. That had happened to Themis because a human’s call is stronger than a demonic call. So the same knowledge of her name that failed to allow Beslizoswian to compel her, did allow his human tool to do so. Zeus was afraid that a human would get enough of his name to lock him into a container and control him.

Zeus confirmed her assessment with his next words. “Some piss ant Greek scholar in Athens built himself a pentagram, put a statue of me in it, and tried to force me to throw a lightning bolt at the Church of the Conception in Athens.

“If he’d asked, I might have been tempted. The priest in that church is looking to burn heretics who pray to ‘false’ gods.”

“And where is he now?” Nemesis asked with a grin.

“Still there,” Zeus grumbled. “I didn’t want to give the torch-bearing Christians an excuse to go on a burning spree when I am starting to get actual worshipers again. Besides, moving into the mortal realm without a container is difficult and dangerous. I have no desire to have a puck in an enchanted cart run me down like Pucorl did Beslizoswian. Speaking of which, why in all the netherworld did you cede Beslizoswian’s lands to Pucorl?”

Themis looked at Zeus and Nemesis, both of whom were glaring at her. “Remember, Sister — and you too, Zeus — I am still the titan of proper behavior. And one of the things that my time as a slave taught me was that nobility of spirit deserves reward.” She laughed. “Half the reason I forgave Charles of France for attempting to claim me was his knighting of Pucorl. It was a noble act, and not his only one. It was Pucorl that finally broke Beslizoswian, and to the victor goes the spoils.”

“Very well, Sister. It’s clear you won’t change your mind. But what are we to do about the mortals calling us? I have no desire to be forced into ‘the sword of retribution’ and serve some mortal moron who deserves to be cut in half more than any of his enemies do.”

“Let me talk to Wilber and Gabriel,” Themis said.

“What? You would have us ask the aid of mortals?” Zeus’ face became bright red.

“I am free today because a mortal chose to do the right thing instead of keep me as his plaything,” Themis said. “Would you have made the same choice, Zeus?”

Zeus looked at her, then at Nemesis. It was exceedingly difficult to get a lie past a god, even for another god. “It wouldn’t have been an easy choice.” He took another look at Nemesis, who was looking like she might pull her sword of justice on him, and finished, “Yes, I think I would have, if only out of fear of your sister’s reaction if I tried to keep you.”

“Well, when Roger did it, it wasn’t out of fear.”

Nemesis looked at her, and said, “I am not sure how I feel about that. But, yes, if that is the character of your mortals, call them and we will speak together with them in search of a solution.”

Location: Guest Quarters, Magnaura, Constantinople

Time: 6:06 AM, November 17, 1372

Wilber was having a lovely dream when the phone rang. He muttered, “Go away, Igor. Not taking any calls now,” speaking in both the dream and the waking world, because Wilber was aware that his dream was the product of the dryads of the grove.

Suddenly trumpets blew in his dream and the dryads were gone. Then Merlin’s voice in his cochlear implant, over the phone, and from the computer, were all saying “Get up, Wilber! You have to take this call.”

Wilber found himself sitting up in the bed, deeply disappointed, highly frustrated, and ready to kill Merlin and whoever was calling. “What the fuck is it?”

“Themis is on the phone, and she’s not the only one,” Merlin said.


In another room, Amelia Grady woke to trumpets blaring from her phone Laurence, followed by, “Wake up, Amelia. We have trouble right here in River City. The gods want to have a little chat with your boy toy.”

The trumpets had woken Gabriel, so he heard Laurence’s comment. Normally he and Laurence got along well, but Gabriel had been sound asleep only seconds before. “Can we drown your phone, dear one?”

“It’s not me, Gabe,” Laurence said. It turned out that Laurence Olivier had a low sense of humor off camera, which had an influence. “This is serious. We have the Olympians gathering in Themis’ hall and more are arriving even as we speak. They want to have a little chat with you about that book you wrote back in Paris.”

Laurence the phone had a quad core, so it had four separate but linked processors that allowed the muse that occupied the phone to carry on multiple conversations at once. While he was talking with Gabriel and Amelia, he was also on the phone with Shakespeare, Amelia’s computer, Merlin, Wilber’s computer, and Pucorl. And everyone was in a tizzy because everyone was getting calls from Themis.

By the time Gabriel and Amelia were dressed, the plan was in place. All of them would repair to Pucorl and thence to Pucorl’s lands, where they would be able to meet, not entirely in person but close to it, with what might be called the council of European gods.

Location: Pucorl’s Lands

Time: 6:34 AM, November 17, 1372

Pucorl appeared in his reserved parking spot on the blacktop outside Pucorl’s Garage, the side doors opened, and the first load of mortals piled out. Included among them was Monsignor Savona with Raphico, Roger, Annabelle, Wilber, Gabriel, Amelia, Paul, Jennifer, Bill, Liane, and Lakshmi. Pucorl was going to make a second trip to include Cardinal de Monteruc, Bertrand, and Tiphaine.

As soon as they were out, Pucorl returned to the converted stable next to the Magnaura to pick up the next load.

Wilber and Gabriel made a beeline for the pentagram room on the opposite side of the garage from the Happytime Hotel. When Themis added her own pentagram, she insisted on a separate room to house it. But to pay for it she agreed to add some other pentagrams, a new one for Merlin, and for each of the demons inhabiting one of the twenty-firster devices. It was a large room and Themis’ pentagram had pride of place in it. As they opened the door to the pentagram room, they saw that it had, at least temporarily, expanded into a great hall.

Themis’ pentagram had expanded. It was at least twenty times the size it had been and it was packed with thrones, and each throne had a god or a demigod on it. Most of them were the Greek gods, who were also the Roman gods, but next to Mercury was Woden. And next to Zeus was Thor.

Wilber stopped in the door until Roger tapped him on the shoulder and squeezed by. Roger walked ahead and knelt to Themis, holding out her sword. She reached out and touched the hilt, and then he put it back on his shoulder and went to a smaller chair next to Themis’ throne and took a seat.

One other thing had stopped Wilber at the door. The gods on their thrones weren’t human sized. They varied, but the smallest of them would be twelve feet tall if standing. Roger’s chair was a normal-sized human chair.

Wilber found his chair. It was to the left of a throne. An empty throne that was human-sized. All the chairs on their side of the room had name tags and the name tag on the throne was Pucorl.

“I don’t think the van is going to fit,” Wilber muttered to Merlin, who had his own chair. No one else heard, because he spoke through his implant connection.

“Zeus apparently has no desire to talk to a cart, so he’s arranging things. By the way, we may have some power issues since Zeus isn’t that thrilled that one of his lightning bolts is spending its down time as our electrical system. He didn’t notice it until he got here, but at the moment he is having words with Ilektrismós.”