Dark Confidant in ‘The Case of the Missing Minus, Part Four’

Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2013 by KingRamz
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Previous installments:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Dark Confidant  

The Case of the Missing Minus,
Part Four

When I came to, I had no idea where I was, which seemed to be the theme for the day. But in a welcome change,
I didn’t actually hurt any more. I was laying prone and my cheek was stuck to something.

I sat up and that something turned out to be a white leather couch. I was in what appeared to be the
living room of a swankily decorated house. In front of me, a picture window gave me a beautiful view
of a beach and a crystal-blue ocean.

The walls were covered with framed posters, about half of which depicted angels, vampire women,
and elvish rangers. You know, the cheesecake factor. The other half depicted the dwelling’s occupant,
Jace Beleren, in a variety of mystical poses casting spells that clearly were doing nothing but looking
impressive to laypeople. And this was definitely Jace’s place, and not just a shrine set up by some
psychotic superfan of his. There were personal photographs of him all over the place. There he was, flashing
devil horns with Niv-Mizzet, or with his arms around four members of the Stonybrook Synchronized
Swimming Team, or-

“Morning, brah!” said Jace Beleren, as he levitated into the room with a can of Cluestone Light.
“Scoping the photos, huh? That one’s me with my roommates from the Alpha Beta Tappa House at the
Tolarian Academy,” he said, pointing at the photo I was holding. “There’s Teferi, Arcanis, and Yu.”

“That’s not me. I never even went to the Tolarian Academy.”

“Not you, bro! Yu. Jarvis Yu. Awesome dude to hang out with. Could be a brick sometimes,
though. I still remember when he went to the Spice Isles for Spring Break with this moonfolk chick named
Tamiyo. Only it turned out that Tamiyo was Tami-bro. Dude was crushed. You know what I’m saying?”


“I mean, it turned out she had a-”

“I got it, Jace.”

He took a swig of his beer. “It was a real Olivia Voldaren moment.”

I put the photo back where I’d found it. “Why am I here, Jace? And for
that matter, why don’t I hurt? I didn’t know you’d picked up white magic.”

He spread his arms wide. “I didn’t, bro. Didn’t you know? Healing’s totes
in blue’s color pie, just like everything else.” He floated down onto the couch next to me.

“Well, thanks, I guess. Back to the first question. Why am I here? Let me guess –
you’re trying to meddle with whatever Chandra and Liliana are planning?”

“No way, dude. What they’re planning is super hot. Though I wouldn’t mind coming between them.
You smell what I’m cooking, bro?” He laughed and elbowed me in the ribs. “No, man, I brought
you here for something way more important than Chandra’s missing minus ability.”

“Yeah? What’s that?”

He set his beer down on the coffee table, then put his hand on my shoulder
and gave me what I guessed was the most serious look he could manage.
“Bob. Dude. I need you to be my wingman.”

I admit it. I hadn’t been expecting that. “What?

“Bro, I know you remember that time we went to Ulgrotha and partied at the An-Havva Inn.”

“Yeah, I remember.” I wasn’t particularly proud of that night, either.

“And those two chicks
were there, Soraya and Reveka? Soraya was a little older than I usually go for, but man, she knew
her way around a Squadron Hawk. And Reveka… woof! But luckily for me, you jumped right on that grenade!”
He slapped my shoulder. “I gotta say, dude, I was proud of you that next morning at their place.
You tapped her and she stayed tapped.” He emphasized the word “stayed” by balling his hands into
fists and making a pelvic thrusting motion.

Look, in my defense, I’d been really drunk. “Yeah, I remember. I’m not going back there with you.”

He smirked at me. “Been there, done that, broski. No, we’re going to Otaria.”

I considered. Jace Beleren knew almost everything, right up to the point where
omniscience and free will collided. And sometimes beyond – he was blue, after all.
He might be able to make my job much easier for me. I could probably even swing getting Chandra
to buy a few drinks for me. Business expenses, you understand. “You know who took Chandra’s
missing minus ability, don’t you?”

He laughed. “Was there ever any doubt?”

“If I go with you, will you tell me who it was?”

“Anything for a bro.”

It was tempting. Some people say they don’t like to take the easy way out. In my line of work,
those people are dead. You can piss off one interdimensional being of nearly limitless power,
and you can piss off another, but eventually you have to say enough is enough. Getting the answers
from Jace and laying low for a while would undoubtedly be the best thing for my health. “All right,
deal. I take it you have someone specific in mind?”

“I do.” He conjured up an image for me, one I recognized. “Her name’s Akroma. She’s an angel,
and she’s a honey. Carries around two kinds of protection. And she’s got haste, if you know what
I mean. Only problem is, she’s always with this other chick.”

Another image. I recognized this one, too. I could see where this was going, and I didn’t like it.
“It’s like they’re joined at the hip
or something. They’re basically inseparable. And there’s no way I’m touching her.
So that’s where you come in. Get her away from Akroma, show her a good time, let me make my move,
and next morning, you’ll have your info.”

“You want me to spend the night with Phage, the Untouchable.” It would’ve been a great deal, if I
hadn’t minded the idea of perishing horribly after having my skin seared off. “Much as I’d love for
you to do my job for me, Jace, I’m gonna have to decline. Solving the case doesn’t do me much good
if I’m too dead to collect my pay afterwards.”

His demeanor took a sudden shift. The veneer of amicability peeled from his face, revealing the
sociopathy and disdain beneath. Just what I wanted to do, incite another planeswalker. Three for three.
“It’s not really up to you, bro,” he said, preparing to cast what I could only assume was a mind control

“Actually, I really think it is,” I said. And for the third time that day, I closed my eyes,
reached deep into myself, and used my power to reveal Jace’s deepest, darkest secret.

I saw a naked man, bent over, facing away from me, using his hands to stretch his…
Look, you don’t want to know, and I don’t want to think about it any more. It was disgusting.
I coughed, gagged, and started retching over the coffee table. Jace was literally rolling on
the floor laughing.

Once we’d both recovered, he was back to his old “friendly” self. “Oh, man, that was so sick,
bro!” he said. “You walked right into it! Should’ve seen your face when you saw it. Wait, let me show you.”
He conjured up an image of my face, a slow-motion reaction shot to the foul thing I’d just seen.

“What the hell was that?” I asked.

“I was doing a little scrying earlier and I had this sudden brainstorm,” he said.
“I realized you were going to try that trick on me, and after that, your fate was sealed.
Figured I’d give you a little glimpse of the unthinkable. You’re going to need more than a
thought scour to get that out of your head.” He chuckled.

“Well, now you’ve had your fun. Since you brought me here in the first place, mind bouncing
me back to my office? Don’t know if the Wizards’ lair is really the best place for me to be right now.”

He looked doubtful. “You sure you don’t want to take your chances with Phage, bro?”

“You mean, I could lose my shot at a horrible, painful death? Yeah, I’m sure.”

He shrugged. “All right, man. Peace.” My stomach flip-flopped again, and I was back in my office.
No sign of Hans. The tarmogoyf attack had probably scared the hell out of him. He would’ve found a
hiding place somewhere safely far away from my office.

Which, it only belatedly occurred to me, I probably should have done, too. My office was the obvious
first place for Elspeth or Garruk to come looking for me. Coming back here had been a stupid mistake,
and in my line of work, stupid mistakes get you killed. Best thing to do now would be to get out, fast.

I almost jumped out of my skin when I felt the pressure of hands on my shoulders. I spun around,
the words to a spell on the tip of my tongue, ready to cut loose with a doom blade at whoever or
whatever had been waiting for me. But I didn’t need it, and it wouldn’t have worked anyway.

“Bob, darling,” said Liliana Vess. “What’s happened to you? So high-strung.”

“This has been one hell of a day, Lily. What are you doing here?” She looked good. She looked real
good. That waist-length ebony hair, the low-cut purple dress with the slit up the front that gave away
just enough to let you know you should be interested, the classic thigh-high black boots with the stiletto
heels. She’d lost her tattoos, though. Must’ve broken that demon curse or whatever it was. And I relaxed
a little as I realized that if she was here, Garruk and Elspeth wouldn’t be. They couldn’t stand her.

“I’ve been waiting for you. Your place is a mess.”

“Tarmogoyfs don’t make the best interior decorators. What do you need from-” She put her finger over my
lips. Then she kissed me. Not a last kiss, not a soul kiss, not a kiss of death, just a regular kiss.
Brought back some memories. Normally a guy like me should’ve been more suspicious in a situation like that.
Especially after having gotten his ass kicked repeatedly by people looking for the woman who just showed
up uninvited in his office. But I’ve always been a sucker for Lily, and the day had been about as rotten
a day as I could’ve asked for. So as she took me by the hand and led me back into my own bedroom, I certainly
wasn’t going to question the sudden turn in my luck.

I closed the door to the bedroom behind us. As far as you’re concerned, everything went black.

What is Liliana’s ulterior motive? Is Bob ever actually going to start investigating the theft of
Chandra’s minus ability? Why the hell are we still waiting to learn what happened to Hans? All your questions
will be answered in the exciting conclusion of Dark Confidant in the Case of the Missing Minus, coming next week!