"So," said the fire goblin. "We're alone now."
I turned to face him, letting the corpse of his servant fall from my hands. He still wore that infuriating smirk. I reached out to punish him for it.
"Don't." A blast of orange flame dissuaded me. I might have been filled with the eldritch power of a being that defied comprehension, but fire was still hot.
"I killed your friend," I said.
"So I see."
"I could kill you, too."
"I would ordinarily hesitate to put it so bluntly, but not if I killed you first."
"Want to try?"
"Don't." The goblin put up a hand of peace. "We seem to have gotten off to a bad start."
"That would be the one where you took me prisoner, or the one where you were about to kill me?"
"How about the one where I saved your life? Or had you forgotten? Cold can be just as deadly as heat. Speaking of which - where were you thinking of going, now that you've dispatched your tormentors? You weren't exactly getting on on your own."
Kill him, Samael, the voice whispered. Kill him now. I will provide for you.
"Be quiet," I whispered back.
"Sorry?" The goblin said. He seemed to sense there was something going on. Something he was powerless to affect. I think that angered him more than the death of his fairy.
"What do you propose?" I asked the goblin. I could feel a proud anger rising from my chest, and was sure that the voice had sent it. Let it rage. I had spent enough time chained to one master or another. This voice would soon learn that Samael was slave to no one.
"I.. propose a truce." The goblin was becoming more nervous. Whatever he could see in me was frightening. Good. I forced a cold smile.
"What kind of truce?" I asked.
"I know where to find shelter. I can lead you out of these woods, never to return."
"And in exchange I spare your life?"
"I could not expect that. You've been touched by some powerful evil. Whatever it is, it's nothing I've seen before. It will never let you let me live."
"Perhaps you misunderstand whose body this is."
The goblin and the demon laughed in unison. It was the eeriest thing I had ever heard.
"If you think I'm going to kill you," I said, "then why help me leave?"
The goblin smiled. "I think you're going to try. But maybe - just maybe - if I pick my moment, I can kill you first."
"Sounds like the basis of a firm friendship."