Faraday had never been so glad to see a small camp as he was right now. It wasn’t that he was sick of all this already, but he had had the last day and a half narrated by a demon, and it was getting past annoying. It wasn’t the first time he had ridden with demons, and every last one he had ever met had been enormously fond of the sound of their own voice… but Goodnight Robicheaux might have just about taken the cake. Faraday was starting to develop a twitch in his right eye that no amount of alcohol was soothing, as well as a theory as to the demon.
The demons he had known in the past were all Antichrists, natural born children of Lucifer, and of the three of them he had known, Faraday had been friends with exactly one, predictably the one most likely to currently be dead, given the injuries he’d sustained in a fight against a wendigo, and capable to standing only one of the others, the one he knew for a fact was dead. But even a sample size that small did leave some room for educated guesses, if he was willing to assume that all demons were like Antichrists. That much, he didn’t actually know for certain, but for now, he would just work with the information he had.
As far as demons went, he was about ninety-three percent certain that Goodnight was young. How young he wasn’t so sure on. He didn’t know how demons reckoned age. It was all a bit beyond him. To him, even the oldest of demons was fairly young: a couple thousand years old or so at most. Hell, he remembered when demons were still new creatures and were called ‘shadow elementals,’ before the rest of the monster population found out the proper names for them.
No, it was more like ninety-seven percent a certainty that, whatever kind of demon Goodnight was, he was a young one, though whether that meant a couple of decades or a couple of centuries, Faraday couldn’t be say with complete certainty. The story of Goodnight Robicheaux the Confederate sharpshooter was less than twenty years old, so he was no younger than twenty. And Faraday didn’t think he was older than the Antichrists—Mordecai, Belial, and Ezekiel, though the latter had much preferred the nickname of Ezra—that he’d known. He wasn’t sure he could pin down just what it was that made him certain that Goodnight was younger, but that was indeed the impression he got.
Honestly, he didn’t know that much about demons, and he knew even less about angels. They were just too new and too insular, keeping mostly to themselves and between the two groups. Some days it annoyed the piss out of him, almost as much as all the prattling on he’d been hearing for a couple of days now, between Volcano Springs and here.
If pressed, he wasn’t sure he would be able to recall all the topics that had been so thoroughly covered. He remembered a long conversation in English—in order to let Teddy join in—about what it was that Sam Chisolm wanted, which he and Teddy had indeed answered as best they could. Then there had been another discussion, just as long or even longer, about just what Teddy was. That one had been in the Old Tongue, spoken purely monster to monster and, in this particular case, mind to mind, meaning poor Teddy had no idea he was being left out of a discussion. Granted, it was all about him, so maybe it was for the best. Faraday had done his best to ignore that line of talk. He knew what Teddy was, after all, and he saw no reason to share that particular bit of information. Should little Teddy Q decide he wanted that information shared, then that was on him. There was power in names, and sometimes there was just as much power, just as much value, in knowing little facts and bits of trivia.
For instance, he knew that there was a new monster at the bottom of this hill at that camp. What was down there, he couldn’t say for certain, only that he could say for a fact that it wasn’t a Fae of any sort. That was the extent of his certainty.
He had, after all, met a lot of different kinds of Fae and Fae-like creatures over his long years wandering the world. None of the ones he’d met had had teeth quite like that, though. Because those were some truly impressive teeth, and damn it, he wanted a chance to get up close and personal with the… being attached to them. Because, yeah, he had no idea at all what kind of monster that was, other than not Fae. It probably wasn’t a demon, an angel, or any kind of elemental.
Honestly, if he had to hazard a guess, he would think he was looking at one of the Old Gods, the kind that didn’t usually walk the world and certainly never outside the area they used to be worshipped. Maybe this was the kind of Old God he had always been warned lived in Old Mexico and was the reason he’d avoided the southern section of the continent.
All in all, that could mean there was another monster on this little trip who was of a similar age to him. It damn sure wasn’t going to be the baby demon or the angel, after all, no matter what physical appearances might dictate.
Speaking of the baby demon, Goodnight was riding slightly ahead of the group to cheerfully greet Sam Chisolm. Faraday tuned the loud conversation out as much as he could. It was so much better to put his attention to something more productive, like the paltry remains of his gifted bottle of whiskey.
Goodnight made a half-assed attempt at introducing Billy Rocks, and Faraday would note that he didn’t say the first word about what the other man was. Oh, now this should be fun. He was all for trying to pull one over on the monster hunter. This could be fun!
So he made a production of getting off his horse, acting a whole lot more drunk than he actually was; if he was really as drunk as he was acting, he probably would have killed the baby demon between four and seven miles ago. Chisolm sidled up to him, and though it was a hardship, he held back the smirk from forming on his face. “That’s Billy,” he delivered, slurring his words but keeping his tone deadpan, on the question Chisolm hadn’t asked yet. “He come with Goodnight.”
And I ain’t tell you a damn thing about him, monster hunter, no more than I’d tell the baby demon and the angel what Teddy Q is. You can just forget about that.
“He’s pretty handy with them pigstickers,” Faraday offered instead.
There was a tap at the back of his mind, the Old Tongue equivalent of clearing the throat or knocking on a door for attention. In the last day and a half, he had gotten very familiar with how the baby demon and to a lesser extent the angel sounded in the Old Tongue—the Angel had a sort of lilting tone, while the demon managed to carry the damn drawl over, because of course he did—and this sound like neither of them.
No, this voice was deep and rich, and part of his mind wanted to compare it to a strong, quality drink… or a good chocolate. At the very least, he wanted to curl up in it. And there was only one possible monster here it could belong to. And wasn’t that an interesting thing?
“Oh good,” he answered aloud and maybe louder than he should have, given their… mixed company, “we got a Mexican… something.”
The other monster chuckled, low and dark, like chills up the spine. Yeah, this was going to be fun, being thrown in with monsters like these.
“‘A Mexican something’, cabrón? I am older than this country.” The words slithered through his mind, and Faraday didn’t even bother to hide his shiver. There was power, old and hungry and a little cruel, in that voice, like he hadn’t heard in years. No doubt about it: this was one of the Old Gods or something not very far from one. Interesting. Very interesting.
“No doubting that, my friend. There is certainly no doubting that. But then, even the baby demon there is older than this country.” He offered a wink to go with the words, and the Old God chuckled both aloud and in Faraday’s mind, the sound curling lazily around him. “You are what I think you are? You’re older than a lot of countries on any map.”
“What you are thinking I am?” There was an almost tinniness to the voice now, meaning the conversation was being shared now, that it was no longer just between the two of them. And the man might just have been bragging, given the sheer pride in what he was saying. “I am ancient, and I have been worshipped as a god. The Aztecs, they called me Mictlantecuhtli.”
It took all of a split second for Goodnight to slip into the conversation, of course, once the option was opened up to him, even as he stalked back over rejoin the two of them, his angel on his heels. “I won’t even ask how to spell that one. What are you doing in this part of the world, mon ami? I thought your kind usually stayed where your followers are.”
“Not so many followers these days, cabrón. Spaniards kill too many of them.” And Faraday found himself nodding, just slightly. The same had happened with the Romans, years and years and years ago. “I kill a Ranger who harasses one of my worshippers, and I get a bounty on my head.”
Faraday scoffed aloud. “Ain’t met a Ranger I like yet.” It was offered up almost like a peace treaty, and the Old God smiled, so obviously it was accepted. Good. That was good.
Goodnight glanced around between the four of them. “So we do have quite the motley crew here then, don’t we? An angel of death,” he nodded at Billy, who touched his finger to the brim of his hat in acknowledgement, “an Antichrist my own self,” which seemed to surprise exactly no one, “an Old God, and you, Faraday. Just what is that you are anyway? You don’t act like any Fae I’ve ever met.”
He snickered, careful to keep it solely between the four of them. “And yet you act like every Antichrist I’ve known, Goodnight.”
And now that? That was funny. He had been trying to compare Goodnight to the other demons he had known, all of which were Antichrists—literal children of the Christian devil, Lucifer—and here Goodnight was one of the same. In turn, that meant that all four demons he had passed time with now were all Antichrists. He wasn’t too sure where he was going to put Goodnight in that list of how well he liked them, not just yet.
“This is true, güero,” Vasquez continued Goodnight’s trail of words when Faraday didn’t give an answer. “You do not act like any Fae I have known. What are you then?”
“Me?” he asked, all wide-eyed innocence, the look spoiled immediately by the amused smirk on his lips. “I’m just… a little of this and a little of that. That’s all.”