We realized the problem when we got to the location.
He was in an apartment building. A big apartment building. “Bastard,” Thruor pronounced. “He didn’t send a demon because…”
“…because he’s using the other residents as a human shield.” I let out a breath. “If he’s after you, Zaid, think you can lure him out with some spectacular show of magic?”
Zaid frowned. “It’s worth a try, but he’s as likely to…”
“I don’t think he can, or he would have. Maybe he can only summon them every so often.” He hadn’t harassed us while we were scrying.
“Or he wanted us to come here and see his setup,” Zaid noted. “He may have wanted to be found.”
I wished I’d thought of that. I studied the building. “There is one easy way to deal with this. Pull the fire alarm.”
“You’ve never lived in a building like this,” Thruor said simply. “Large apartment buildings get so many false alarms that people stop evacuating. Sometimes with unpleasant consequences. It would get some people out. It wouldn’t clear the building.”
Maybe we’d have to start a real fire. Something small and smoky, enough to get the people in there to take it seriously. In the trash chute, maybe?
That, of course, was when the serpent demon showed up. It didn’t attack, though. It hovered in front of us, a dark shape of shadow. I noticed, this time, that it didn’t have a hood. Just a snake.
An insult to snakes, I thought.
“So. Zaid bint Suriya.” Clearly that was meant as an insult. Or maybe Zaid was female underneath? “You bring friends. You bring friends that shouldn’t even be involved in this.”
Zaid smiled. “You attacked a train full of innocent people. You picked the wrong train.”
The serpent hissed. “We picked the right train. You were on it.”
“So was I.” I drew my sword and stepped forward. “You attacked people under my protection. If you don’t want to cause trouble with other pantheons, consider not being the one who starts it.” Which was about as eloquent as…it wasn’t, but I hoped it got the point across.
The snake hissed again. “A baby Asgardian thinks…”
Zaid started chanting and the snake recoiled.
“I think Zaid can handle you. But I won’t let anyone else get hurt.”
“Then you won’t attack. If you do, I’ll raze that place.”
I wasn’t sure he could, but before anything else was said, the serpent vanished. Probably of its own accord as Zaid hadn’t got that far into his spell.