“Who do you think you are? I’m not some personal Genie that you can just summon whenever you want something! I’m the Prince of Hell for Lucifer’s sake! If I wasn’t trapped in this damn thing I’d rip your bloody head off!” Damien scowled at me from the confines of my hastily drawn pentagram.
His blatant rage didn’t scare me. I’d been around Damien long enough to know he wouldn’t hurt me. I wasn’t sure whether it was because he actually enjoyed my company or if he just thought it was pointless to kill someone who couldn’t really die. Either way, it still didn’t stop him threatening me every chance he got.
“Look if we could just skip the threats today and get to actual issue here that would be great,” I hissed in a commanding tone.
Damien raised an eyebrow at me in disbelief and I could see he was about to snap some kind of retort.
Before he had a chance to open his mouth I beat him to it, “Something’s wrong with me.”
He seemed to swallow his retort and chose to remain silent, watching me expectantly.
I continued, nervously rubbing the back of my neck as I tried to articulate the problem, “Well not particularly wrong, I guess, just…not normal. I mean, it’s like I’m suddenly sympathetic towards Cartman. Hell, I’m even sticking up for that asshole in pointless arguments. He’s a fat, evil, son of a bitch who’s literally killed me. But it’s like my mind keeps trying to make up excuses for him. ‘It was an accident’, ‘He didn’t mean to kill you’ ‘It was your choice not to come up for air’-”
I cut off then as I realised I’d started to ramble. Damien was looking at me impatiently and I sighed.
Deciding to get straight to the point, I asked, “Is it the bond?”
At first Damien sneered, preparing to make a snide remark. But something must have changed his mind because his face faltered the tiniest bit. I would have missed it if I hadn’t spent nearly every day of the last six years with him. I knew Damien more than I probably knew myself and he, in turn, had known me, the true me, long before anyone else. Time in hell moves differently, one day can feel like a week in hell. Psychologically I’d probably spent more of my childhood with Damien than even my best friends. Part of me entertained the hope that it was some form of fondness for me that lead to Damien’s reply.
“When an immortal bonds with a human, it’s much different for them. Sometimes the human can go their whole life unaffected, seemingly unaware they were ever a power source at all. But for an immortal, it’s not as simple. Since you were born, your bond to Cartman has been effecting the way you think.”
Damien paused for a moment, watching me carefully, allowing me time to process his words before continuing.
“You may not want to admit it, but you couldn’t help becoming friends with Cartman. Your bond made you drawn to his company whether you liked it or not. Initially it was for convenience. While he was nearby your access to your powers were stronger. But your awareness and contact with the bond has been heightened lately. When Cartman revived you he directly accessed your bond. He wasn’t just a ‘power source’ anymore, he became an equal participant within the bond. Not only that, but you also delved into each other’s subconsciousness when you possessed him. That kind of soul contact would have created side effects even without the bond already in place. The bond is being forced to grow stronger to withstand the new intensity of power flowing between you two.”
This was all becoming too much. The bond had been hard enough to accept before.
“So what does that mean? Am I going to want to be with Cartman all the time? Is he going to start dying every day as well? What about Butters? How the hell am I supposed to explain this to him? Oh god, am I going to fall in love with Cartman?” I gasped, my voice was laced with horror at the words. My stomach churned even at the thought.
“What is it with you and questions? I should limit you to three a day. Honestly, if you’re going to treat me like a Genie I might as well get the restrictions of one,” Damien said this in a slightly teasing tone and suddenly his smile was almost reassuringly, “You’re not going to fall in love with Cartman. Sure, you may feel obligated to protect him, sympathise with him when no one else can and even detect his emotions, even when it seems like he doesn’t have any. But the bond cannot force love. Sure love between bonded pairs can happen, but not because of the bond, love isn’t something magic can force.”
He said the last part almost fondly and I wondered if he was thinking about Pip. It was obvious to see there was something between the two. I knew Damien well enough to see how the blonde affected him. Damien seemed to catch himself and he cleared his throat.
His scowl returned as he hissed, “Immortals shouldn’t care about love anyway. We don’t need to trouble ourselves with such a human emotion.”
I didn’t press him any further, I knew he’d never admit to loving Pip even to himself. I was too busy feeling relieved about the safety of my own love life to worry about anyone else’s. Geez when did I become an expert in spotting desperate longing among my friends? Maybe I should pursue a career in matchmaking. Damien’s harsh voice snapped me back to reality.
“Well this whole conversation has been long and pointless, so I’m gonna head back to hell now since I actually have thousands of demons to rule,” Damien grumbled impatiently.
Suddenly I was hit by a thought which caused me to desperately shout, “Wait!”
Damien growled in protest but thankfully didn’t disappear.
“Do you think I could maybe borrow a hundred or so demons?” I asked in a pleading tone.
Damien seemed genuinely lost for words for a moment before snapping incredulously, “What could you possibly need a hundred of my subjects for?”
I looked shuffled my feet nervously before quickly replying, “Well Cartman brought some people back to life which made Death really mad and he maybe, kinda, sorta declared war on South Park.”
Damien gaped at me like I’d grown a second head, “He WHAT?”
“Declared war on-” I began again but Damien cut me off.
“I heard what you fucking said! Oh my Lucifer, you cannot be serious. You know Death is one of the strongest immortals of all time, right? He’s even stronger than my Dad. How the hell do you plan on beating him?” Damien actually looked horrified, which was more emotion than I’d ever seen him display. His reaction was a harsh reminder of the terrifying situation I was in.
“I was thinking maybe with a little help from a hundred demons or so…” I trailed off lamely and Damien’s eyes narrowed.
“There’s no way I’m sending a hundred of my men on a suicide mission!” Damien exclaimed with surprising loyalty.
I knew it was unfair of me to expect him to ever say yes. After all, Damien didn’t owe me anything. In fact, I actually owed him considering he’d kept me company all these years whenever I’d gone to hell. Without him who knows what the normal patrons of the underworld would have done to me. But he was my only hope, there was no way anyone in this town would join me. Let alone believe me. Even if they did, I couldn’t have that on my conscience. It was a long shot that any of us were going to survive this battle, but I’d be throwing them in the front lines to be slaughtered. At least demons stood a bit more of a chance than humans.
“Please Damien, South Park will be destroyed if we don’t do something. Hundreds of innocent people will die. Some part of you must carry at least a tiny bit of fondness for this town? It was the first place you came to on Earth. It was Pip’s home, the place you guys met. Please, you have to help me save it,” I pleaded with him.
Damien stared at me for a long time, his expression unreadable. I was just about to drop to my knees and actually start begging, when he finally spoke.
“First of all, I don’t have to do anything. I’m the future heir to the throne of hell, I don’t answer to barely immortals like you,” Damien snarled and I felt my slim hope slipping away, “But hell can’t afford a massacre right now. There’s barely enough room as it is, let alone for an entire town of new arrivals.”
My face lit up immediately and I almost hugged him, but I knew that’d probably cause him to change his mind immediately. So instead I kept a safe distance and bounced from one foot to the other just barely keeping myself from jumping for joy.
“So you’ll help me?” I asked trying to contain my immense relief.
“On one condition,” he replied seriously.
My joy was quickly replaced for dread as I tried to imagine what horrible task he’d ask of me.
“I’m not sending my army just so that they can all die horribly. That would not only be terribly inconvenient for me, but it would also disgrace my Father’s name. So you can understand why I wouldn’t agree to something like that without a contingency plan,” Damien insisted sternly, “so yes I’ll grant you a hundred of my demons. But only if you gather your own army of humans to fight with them.”
My smile from earlier was completely diminished now. I was back to square one. There’s no way I’d be able to gather an army in two days. Even if by some miracle I did manage to find the man power, how could I live with myself afterwards? I would be the reason hundreds of humans died.
“Oh,” Damien added suddenly with a menacing smirk, “and for each demon I loose on the battlefield, I get to claim one of your soldiers’ soul as replacements for my lost man.”
I immediately protested, “Hold on! You can’t just-”
“That’s my final and only offer, Ken. Take it or leave it,” Damien said firmly.
I knew that this was an impossible position to be in. I could say no and fight a losing battle, in which the entire town would be destroyed and everyone would die anyway, or I could agree and have at least a slightly better chance at beating Death. But of course, in the likely event that we still failed, I would be solely responsible for the damnation of over a hundred innocent souls to a fate worse than death.
There was really only one thing I could do.