“So, an impasse,” said the mage as the two captives ran out. “I kill him, you kill me, you come out ahead anyway?”
“Something like that,” I said as I focused on the mage’s hands. I decided that I couldn’t quite get my hands around his knife before it ripped through the kid’s throat. I should have been moving faster, treated this like the job that it was instead of a fun chance to Smite the wicked. I’d like to blame that on Old Lou, but it was really all my fault.
“But you haven’t, yet,” the mage went on. “I’m betting that you want this one for reasons. Don’t bother telling me, because I don’t care what they are. But I bet they’re important enough to have you make a deal.”
“I doubt it,” I said. “You’re only leaving here over my broken body.” I felt bad saying that; but a mage who’s figured out how to reap death energy has to be stopped as fast as can be done. Sorry, kid.
The mage considered that. “Acceptable,” he said, and dropped the knife. He kicked the kid forward. “I’ll even throw in a minute to let him run away.”
“Get the literal Hell out of here,” I snapped at the kid, not that he needed the hint to run. I looked back at the mage. “Think you can take me, hey?” I could feel the minute tick down, inside my head. Funny thing about demonic possessions: bargains made by either the man or the demon are binding. Guess he knew that.