Time: Twenty years after The Big Reveal
Place: Santa Cruz, CA, Earth
"Why do you have horns?"
Shax glanced up from his reader, vaguely alarmed that a small human had insinuated herself at his café table without him noticing. "Er, hello?"
"Hi. I'm Hatshepsut. I'm named for a woman who was pharaoh a long time ago."
"Lovely name." Shax pulled out a smile. The kid's parents couldn't be far away and would come to rescue him soon. No need to be unpleasant. "I knew her."
She squinted at him. "It's a stupid name. No one can say it. Everyone calls me Hattie, which is stupid, too. I'm going to change it." She swung her feet, squinting at him harder. "You're fibbing. You can't be old enough to know her."
"Hmm. I do often fib. But not about this. My kind of demon doesn't age after we're grown." He sipped at his espresso. "I'm Shax, the Demon Prince of Thieves."
"That doesn't sound like a nice thing to be."
"I'm a demon." Shax quirked a brow at her. "Most of us aren't nice things, and many are perfectly horrid."
With a nod, she glanced away from him, gaze searching the plaza. "I guess. Klfruk doesn't have horns."
Sounds like a Hellish name… But Shax couldn't place it. "Who is Klfruk?"
"He's our demon house guard." The squint became a scrunched nose, no longer directed at Shax. "He's s'posed to be watching me. But he's not smart."
"Ah. I used to slip away from my guards when I was young, too. They weren't terribly bright either." Sometimes the out in the open nature of human-demonic relations still hit him sideways. A Hell denizen guarding a human household. So odd. "Does he have strange ears that look like squashed cauliflowers?"
She nodded, the crinkle vanishing. Perhaps Shax was being reevaluated as not stupid.
"That means he's a rock troll. Which is a sort of demon, but not my sort."
The feet swinging escalated. "So why do you have horns?"
"Why do you have green eyes?" Shax countered with a raised brow.
She snorted at him. Astounding. He'd introduced himself as a demon prince and she exhibited no fear. None at all. "Cause my mom does. Of course." She stopped, eyes widening. "So your mom has horns."
"Well...no. She has wings, though."
Leaning back in her chair, Hattie checked behind Shax. "Did yours get cut off?"
"No." Shax tried for haughty but only managed irritated. "I never had wings."
She gave a terribly serious nod. "My dad's got brown eyes. I didn't get those. I guess your dad's got horns."
"Stands to reason, yes." Don't frown. No need to scare the poor kid now. "I've never seen him, though."
"That's silly. You're a prince. You have to know who your dad is."
Shax pushed his plate of macarons toward Hattie, pleased when she took one. It only seemed polite. "Demon royalty does have registries and bloodlines, like human nobility, but it's not always trackable. Some high-echelon demons weren't born, you see. They were created." He gave an insouciant shrug. "And some don't care to acknowledge offspring or progeni— Parents."
"So your dad's…" Hattie bit into her carefully selected macaron and leaned closer to whisper, "A secret?"
Shax brightened considerably. A secret was much more fun than saying I have no idea. "Yes," he whispered back. "A secret."
Hattie stuffed the rest of her bright purple macaron into her mouth and hopped off her chair. A uniformed rock troll had just entered the plaza, head swiveling back and forth. Hello, sir. You must be Klfruk.
"That's all right then. You just have to go on a quest someday to find him. Princes do that." Hattie scampered off and only turned to wave when she'd taken the befuddled rock troll's hand.
A quest? Shax pulled the plate back toward him and took a delicate nibble of a virulently yellow macaron. Ridiculous. Absurd. Demons didn't go on quests. He shook himself, trying to get rid of the unsettled ripples under his skin. If he'd had a cane, he would've been shaking it. "Damn kids. Stay off my lineage."
About The Brimstone Journals
Extra treats for our Brimstone readers, Brimstone Journals will post every Tuesday. Short scenes from characters' lives before, after or during the stories.
About the Author