8/24/14

Daos IV ~ Ch7: Quid Pro Quo

Previously ~ Crucial Moments and Crossroads

Dani Reyes
The Next Afternoon

Dani Reyes blinked, confused.  "Tell me again exactly what I'm doing here?"

Hyun-jun Im wearily obliged, leading through his suite of posh, flawlessly decorated offices.  "I've been experiencing a certain...health condition of late which leaves me requiring odd things like rest, sick days, and vacation time.  Suffice to say, I'm not the efficient man I used to be and apparently require the services of an assistant."

Dani was still confused.  "Okay...but what am I doing here?"

"Our dear, sweet mutual friend Detective Ona was under the impression that you require a new position...preferably one with daytime hours and a strict professional dress code."

She blinked again.  "But I already have a job; Dominador knows this.  And I don't see why I need to change.  I mean, Strawberry will be really disappointed if I don't show up for my shift tonight."

"Yes," Hyun-jun mused.  "Miss Strawberry indeed.  You know, Dominador predicted you might have a few objections, so I've been make this a full-time position, starting at a rather generous five-figure salary, replete with vision and dental.  You can even enroll in the 401K plan right away."

Hyun-jun Im
"That sounds great," Dani admitted.  "But I'm not so sure about this.  It's a bit sudden."

Hyun-jun was amused.  "Did I mention you also get an expense account for the sole purpose of purchasing new work clothes and getting regular maintenance an upscale salon?"  That last part was his idea.  While he was a bit fond of Dani, Hyun-jun did have a certain standard to maintain.

Dani still appeared skeptical.  "How high's the expense account limit?"

"The limit starts at five thousand," he smirked.  "It goes up to ten after one year's service."

The numbers rendered her breathless.  "Wow," she gasped.  "That's um...that's quite a favor.  How come you're being so generous?"

"Because once you accept, Dominador owes me a favor," Hyun-jun beamed.  "I function best when people owe me favors." He shrugged. "It's a thing."

***



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8/20/14

Daos IV ~ Ch6: Crossroads and Crucial Moments

Previously ~ In the Mirror

Dominador Ona
"You know what?" Daos asked suddenly, rubbing his temples.  "I'm just not feeling it tonight.  I'm gonna walk home."

Dominador moved into intervene.  "Daos --"

The senior detective wasn't trying to hear it.  "Listen, I know what you're going to say next, and I appreciate it, but I'm not in the mood for a strip club.  I'm suddenly craving smokes and a shot of something, anything right now.  And since I'm not trying to turn into the next Hyun-jun train-wreck, I'd really like to just go home and go to sleep, okay?  You can give Dani a ride home."

He turned and left before his roommate could keep talking him into staying. Defeated, Dominador turned his attention back to Hyun-jun and Trish.  He didn't know what those two had talked about, but Hyun-jun was suddenly back to his original gloomy mood.

"Seriously?" Dominador cried.  "What the hell is going on with you people tonight?"

"It's getting late," Hyun-jun evaded.  "Since someone's making me go back to work, I have to be ready for an early meeting with the Mayor."  He flashed a look at Trish.  "If you still want that exclusive, you're gonna want to get some sleep and look your best.  Varinka Nuriyeva is really big on appearances."

It didn't take much to convince Trish.  "Fine, fine, I'm going...can you give me a ride, though?"

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8/17/14

Daos IV ~ Ch5: In the Mirror

Previously ~ Skeleton in the Closet

Dominador Ona
"You're over forty years old?"

"Dominador --"

"You're over forty years old!"

"I can explain if you just let me!"

Dominador Ona looked Daos over, over and over again.  "How is that even possible?" he demanded.  "I mean, after everything we've seen and done, I know there has to be some way it's possible...charm or spell or...something.  What did you do?  Did you strike a deal with someone like Hyun-jun or --"

"My first night out as a rookie detective, I got into it with a perp," Daos shrugged helplessly.  "He ran, I chased.  He wasn't like Hyun-jun; not as a fast, not as strong, and certainly not able to wield Hellfire, otherwise we wouldn't be standing here chatting.  My parents were old at the time; I was their only child and they wanted me to go into medical school or some other bullshit like that.  But I wanted to be a cop, and my first night out...well, you know how that is.  You just can't wait to prove yourself to the higher-ups.

Nicolao Daos
"I wasn't even on duty that night," Daos sighed. "I wasn't even packing heat; I'd stepped out of my apartment to get some cigarettes."

Dominador was appalled.  "You used to smoke???"

Daos closed his eyes briefly, steeling himself against the wave of annoyance.  "My point is, all I should've done was go to the corner store, grab the cigs, and go home, but I didn't. Dude appeared to be harassing a woman.  I stepped in, it got ugly fast, and I ended up chasing him down three blocks and through a portal.

"Needless to say, that particular portal didn't lead to the opposite side of the city."

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8/10/14

Daos IV ~ Ch4: Skeleton in the Closet

Previously ~ Iseul

Hyun-jun Im
Hyun-jun stared ahead at the road, briefly wondering why it was so dark and empty in Soleado Valle.  The road seemed without end, heading nowhere.

He suddenly itched for a drink.  "Why am I thinking about this stuff, Daos?  I can't control it.  What's happening to me?  These people died over a thousand years ago, why do they matter now?"

"You're human," Daos replied carefully.  "Your perception has changed.  Humans are obsessed with the origins of things.  When we're feeling low, we try to draw strength from our identities.  But you don't have a strong human identity.  So it would seem your conscious and subconscious are struggling to create one for you, and in order to do so, they have to go back to beginning.  It's like hitting a reset button."

"Now you sound like that shaman therapist you sent me to."

Daos shrugged.  "You really ought to start seeing him again.   If you'd just let me call him, he could be on the red eye tonight."

Hyun-jun scowled.  "'Cause he was such a big help last time."

"You didn't give him a chance last time."

Nicolao Daos
"Daos...do you think of your parents when you're low?"

"I used to," Daos admitted, nodding.  "There was a time when all I had to do was think of my mother and father all their struggles...and suddenly, whatever I was going through seemed trivial in comparison.  These days, I tend to think in broader terms.  Ancient ancestors and all that."  He turned to gaze out his window, also wondering fleetingly about the seemingly endless night.  The drive to the club seemed to take longer than usual.

"Have you told Dominador about what happened to you and your family?" Hyun-jun suddenly asked.

"No," came the leaden reply.

"Sooner or later you'll have to," Hyun-jun told him.  "He deserves to know the truth about you, Daos."  Pause.  "And so does she."

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8/9/14

Daos IV ~ Ch3: Iseul

Previously ~ Sympathy for the Devil

Hyun-jun Im
She's the daughter of a Tang family, but I will call her 'Iseul'.

Hyun-jun had thought that by going with the guys, it would help his take his mind off his memories.  The memories were what triggered his drinking, not the shock of the change.  After all, it wasn't the first time he'd experienced humanity.

But how could he explain the feeling of remembering events from lifetimes ago?

It was different in a mortal body.  Though Hyun-jun enjoyed nothing more than gazing upon his own face in the mirror every day, he rarely actually thought about the source.  In fact, he hadn't actually thought of the name "Yiryeon" in centuries.  Yet even since he'd become human, Yiryeon was suddenly all Hyun-jun could think about.

***

Silla, 669 BCE
The reign of Munmu

"I do not know her name," Yiryeon waved dismissively, preening before his favorite new bronze mirror.  He'd had a smith melt down the dokkaebi demon totem and re-fashion into a mirror for him.  His "friend" had suggested it.  The top of the tall oval mirror still bore the upper half of the demon's visage, which often drew murmured comments from the servants.

Muhyul, his weary older brother, stood near the bedchamber door, trying to remain patient.  After all, Yiryeon was now Lord of the Gung family, which meant that somewhere, their father was weeping in the afterlife.

"My lord," Muhyul began calmly, "her family has written over a dozen times."

"I only know that she's the daughter of a Tang family, but I will call her 'Iseul'.  The last thing we need is for everyone constantly reminding us that I've married a foreigner," Yiryeon shuddered.

Muhyul raised an eyebrow.  "His Majesty has ordered this?"

"Indeed," Yiryeon nodded, still fondly gazing at his own reflection.  "The King is interested in land owned by the Tang.  Their Emperor will only allow him to have it if one of his nieces - Princess Something or Other - is given a young, handsome husband from a great family.  Since the good Princess is said to be so hideous her mere presence turns wine to vinegar, none in the royal house will have her."

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8/5/14

Daos IV ~ Ch2: Sympathy for the Devil

Previously ~ Adaptation

Dominador Ona
"That was cold, Daos," Dominador objected firmly.

"Do you know who this is?" Daos barked back.  "Do you know what he's done?"

"He's stood by you and helped you fend off an infestation," Dominador countered immediately.

"To protect his own interests," Daos snorted.  "To protect his 'investments'.  Had the portal opened up on the other side of the world, he wouldn't have given a shit."

"So why didn't you kill me?"

Daos and Dominador turned to Hyun-jun who had suddenly stopped drinking.  The ex-demon actually set his brandy glass down and came to stand in his sitting room, away from his bar.  There was a new look in his eyes, in his brow...one Daos hadn't seen in a very long.

Nicolao Daos
"Why didn't you kill me?" Hyun-jun pointedly asked again, looking Daos in the eyes.  "You could've slaughtered me right along with the Horde, but you didn't do that. You made me human."

Daos shrugged, carefully shifting gaze. "Maybe...I hoped your newfound humanity would be unbearable to the point of suicide, Hyun-jun."

Dominador opened his mouth to protest, but Hyun-jun beat him with sarcastic snort.

"Bullshit," the ex-demon chortled. "You could've offed me yourself and you didn't. As a Sacred Guardian and hunter, you would've been well within your rights. Why, Umalagad," he sneered, "I think you have a soft spot for me. I think you made me human so I could seek redemption."

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8/3/14

The Aswang Phenomenon

(h/t Jules)

A very intriguing journey into Filipino mythology and demonology.