The Demons of Constantinople – Snippet 30
Chapter 10 — Attack on Tzouroulos
Location: Happytime Motel, Pucorl’s Lands
Time: 6:35 AM, November 17, 1372
Pucorl stepped through the door and his body changed. He was still humanoid but definitely no longer human. His armor was again part of his body and his body was now filled with oil and electrical systems, no longer blood and nerves. And he couldn’t remember how that change was made. As a landed knight Pucorl had greater control over his form than most pucks, and his make-up was much of earth, because the demon whose lands he took was a system of caves. But caves aren’t only earth. They are air, water, and fire too. He should be able to take any form he chose, even if his default body was that of the van. He had the power. What he lacked was the know-how.
“Hey,” said Annabelle, “Why’d you change back?”
“It wasn’t my idea,” Pucorl said. “Zeus changed my form and changed it back. If I’d been running things, I would have waited until we had a chance to talk.” Pucorl leered the last word, trying to make it sound like one of his usual off-color jokes. But he couldn’t carry it off. He really did want to “talk” with Annabelle, and now that he knew it was possible, he wanted it even more. And he thought, believed . . . wanted to believe, that Annabelle felt the same way.
Roger interrupted. “Sorry, kids. We don’t have time for that. We have to get back and we need you to be a van again.”
“How am I supposed to do that?” Pucorl complained.
“Step outside the garage,” Wilber offered. It was a guess, but an educated one, and it worked. As Pucorl approached the bay doors, he transformed into the van.
As he was leaving the garage, Wilber got a phone call from Themis, one that neither Merlin or Igor were privy to. That was both a feat and an act that was out of character for Themis. In essence, she forced Merlin and Igor temporarily out of their bodies. Well, Wilber owned the phone, the computer, and especially the implant, but still. It wasn’t something that the titan of proper behavior ought to be doing. Her first words explained why.
“I need your help. I was weeks gathering the dead for Philip’s army, but only had days to put things right. A twentieth of my substance was left in the mortal world when I returned to the netherworld, and left me too weak to fight off the other gods should it become necessary. Nemesis, my sister titan, still supports me, but even she is not fully comfortable with the other changes my manumission made in me.”
Wilber knew what she meant. Themis had been a slave and because of that she now understood how evil the institution was. As the embodiment of proper behavior, she was the law giver of the gods, but the other gods were probably not overly thrilled with the notion that freedom should be held as a thing of such value. “What can I do to help?”
“I need a way to restore myself.”
“Mass equals will,” Wilber muttered. “Not E=MC2 but E=W, probably with a conversion factor analogous to C squared in there.”
“What does that mean?” Themis asked, sounding utterly confused.
Wilber, deep in his heart of hearts, felt a bit proud of himself over that. How many people could honestly say they had confused the heck out of a god?
“More than can say they have survived doing so,” Themis informed him tartly.
“Oops. Sorry about that. What I am struggling to understand myself is the correlation between what happens in the netherworld and what happens in the natural world. In the natural world, mass and will are unrelated. A mountain has great mass, but no will. But in your world, the two are related. When Pucorl got knighted it changed him, and for that matter changed the shape of his lands. When he defeated Beslizoswian, that changed him again. Not only the land, but his personality. He’s still a scamp of a puck, but he is more mature and more serious than he was. He’s no longer the eight-year-old brat lying for the heck of it and giggling when he gets away with it.
“Mass and will are almost different aspects of the same thing in the netherworld. Like mass and energy are in the natural world. This is something I’ve been thinking about ever since Pucorl grabbed the van out of the twenty-first century, and I still don’t have a solid handle on it.”
“It’s not mass alone. It’s the kind of mass,” Themis pointed out. “Water is different than earth, which is different from fire or air, and aether is different from all of them.”
“Well, what did you lose the most of?” Wilber asked.
Themis paused only a beat if she paused at all. “More of earth, but a greater part of fire.”
It took Wilber a moment to parse that. Themis was mostly earth. He was guessing, but his guess was that eighty plus percent of Themis was earth, ten percent water, eight percent air, and only a couple of percent fire. So even if she lost a lot more earth than she did fire, she still lost a higher percentage of her fire than her earth. What Wilber didn’t have a clue about was what would happen if they tried to make up the loss by natural world mass-energy. But that seemed to be their only option. There was, at this point, no way to get back the part of herself she had left in the natural world.