I was inclined to agree with her. We converged on the safehouse, having taken different routes and means of transport to get there. Kanesha and I took the bus. I had my full ‘nothing to see here’ field up, and nobody noticed that we were both wearing swords. Or maybe they thought they were props.
Once we were all inside, Thruor locked the door and pushed a table up against it.
“I don’t think that will stop a serpent thing,” I noted. “It showed up on a Metro train in a tunnel.”
“I wonder if it was after you.”
“I don’t know. Maybe a train car full of people looked like a buffet.” Maybe it had been the concentration of humans. Maybe. I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know how things that ate souls operated.
I’d rather deal with vampires.
“It was after me,” Zaid said, quietly. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
The three of us who didn’t cast spells positioned ourselves as lookouts as the witches started to work. They had a big map of DC spread out on the second of the tables. I kept one eye on the scrying – map and crystals – but most of my attention on what might show up if this priest noticed what we were doing.
We fully expected another serpent demon. It was almost disappointing when one didn’t show up.
“Found him. He’s in Silver Spring.”
Thruor nodded grimly. “Let’s go. Surprise is better than a plan.”
She tended to think that way. Kanesha shook her head. “What defenses does he have other than serpent demons?”
Zaid considered. “He probably knows at least some witchcraft. He may or may not know how to use a gun. He’s almost certainly got at least a couple of apprentices or sycophants with him. Or her. We can’t assume either way. Tradition says it should be a woman.”
Kanesha nodded. “Egyptian priests served deities of the opposite sex.” A pause. “And most Norse priests were women.”
I stored that up as information I didn’t know. Assuming it was accurate.
Zaid nodded. “But not everyone follows that tradition, and this person is worshipping a god you appease, you don’t worship.” Zaid cracked a weak grin. “Besides, by that tradition I’m not sure who I should serve.”
“Either or both,” I said, quite firmly. The admission didn’t surprise me. I couldn’t tell if Zaid was a man or a woman because they were, for whatever reason, neither.
That was fine by me. It was weird, but it wasn’t my place to judge on the matter. “I do think we should move quickly. Any physical defenses the three of us can handle. You guys can handle witchcraft. And there’s no serpent demon showing up yet.”
“I think the two of us can handle a serpent demon again.” He smiled at me. “I still don’t have you worked out.”
I started to tell him I couldn’t guarantee the fire thing would happen again, then decided that doubt wouldn’t help any of us.