~36~

"Would you really?"

Dorian whirls. It isn't easy to sneak up on him; he's a master of the art. But a moment ago he was alone in his room, and now there's a handsome, saturnine man standing there.

"How did you get here?" Dorian demands. "Why" isn't as important.

"You called me." The stranger makes a miniscule, unnecessary adjustment to his sharp black suit. "A few minutes ago, but I thought I'd wait until your minions left the room before coming to ask if the offer was genuine."

"What are you talking about?" Dorian's got the hilt of the knife out of his sleeve now. He didn't used to go armed all the time, but anyone who associated with a certain spy with a knack for antagonizing crazed idealists learned to be cautious.

"You said you would sell your soul to me to win that frigid hun."

Now that Dorian thinks about it, there is a scent like a recently struck match in the room. "We don't call Germans that anymore, you know."

One soot-colored eyebrow arches. "When one is as old as I, keeping abreast of mortal slang is impossible." He holds out his left hand, palm up, and a ring, just a simple gold band, appears on it. "Get him to put this on and he will be yours until he dies." In his other hand, a contract appears, calligraphy on parchment (just for effect).

Dorian sighs, bored. "You think I don't know your tricks? We're the same sort, you know. He'll die the next day, or I'll become incurably impotent or something. I'd have better luck asking your opposite number, and I'll bet you can guess what results that got me."

The stranger does not seem dismayed. He pockets his offerings and shrugs urbanely. "If you change your mind," he says, sauntering past, "just say so. I'll be listening."

The stranger walks right through the wall and vanishes. Dorian looks at the spot for a moment before examining the ring. For the Prince of Thieves, lifting it from the stranger's pocket was child's play. It was mainly the challenge of the thing. It hadn't been difficult at all, but it was surely a coup to surpass stealing the Pope.

Using it was another matter. There were bound to be consequences, and stealing the heart of the "hun" fair and square was a greater challenge.

A few months later, the "hun" in question is forced to pose as a tour guide, and silly women, inevitably, develop designs on him.

Dorian offers him a gold ring to discourage the tramps.

 

 

Snippets

Eroica