“I had indicated that it required mortal blood to anchor it,” Doloise began, carefully.  She walked towards a column, and I followed her.  After a moment, she put her hand in the purple flame, unconcerned if it would burn her, I guess.  I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t, actually.  She seemed to be caressing something, maybe a subtle elemental or wisp of some sort.  I’d seen them in ceremony, but only as diffuse lights that generally disappeared at a direct look, not even as clear as a Froudian silhouette.

I am mostly content to be in the league I’m in, but sometimes when the world shows me wonders I get a wistful covetuousness.  It seems so easy for these creatures, surrounded as they are with so much magic it is in the very air they breathe.  I don’t even know how to strike up a conversation without it being fraught with danger.  I mean, I’m an everyday normal kind of guy, ‘cept for the knack and a little too much esoteric knowledge.  I don’t have the kind of tarot reading that is heavy with major arcana, if you know what I mean.

“Which made me wonder, because humanity isn’t the only thing out there that qualifies.  You could have picked up a pigeon in a back alley, or something.  So you needed something that could also close a portal.”  I’d heard of a Wizard of the Pigeons, but he lived somewhere near Seattle and I hadn’t made it that far west in a while.   “Someone decided I fit the description.  What kind of trouble are you into, and is it just you or your whole family?” I gestured towards the others.  This close to the column we actually had more privacy than out on the…rug.  Field.  Field of tiny golden shagflowers.  Shaggrass?  Shagweed?

“Your questioning makes me uncomfortable.  There is only so much I am allowed to say,” she said, still not looking at me.

“Is it Hospitality or politics?” I asked, bluntly.

I didn’t expect her to answer, but she let go of the strange fire, and turned towards me.  “Yes.  And.”  She tilted her head, and it was more feline than human.  “It is difficult to tell an invited guest it is no longer invited.  It is more difficult to tell it that it was never requested in the first place when those with more authority have contradicted this.  It is even more of a challenge when the guest turns to have more power than expected, including that which was granted by your own authority.  Penultimately, it is a Power Between.”

“You save the best for last,” I noted, wryly.

“Yes.  If we cannot send it home, we must keep it from ever returning there.  That is the task with which I was charged, and it is made all the more difficult as we know it knows our conundrum and we cannot determine which scheme it has determined most disadvantageous to our survival.”

“A Power Between,” I repeated.

Her glance was the equivalent, I supposed, of a nod.

I was past the point of panic.  I mean, just because they wanted my help to close the gateway to or exorcise a minor deity, it was just another day in the life, right?  Some people go home, crack open a beer, and watch the game.  Me?  I get to play hooky from work, hang out with a righteous looking babe, and tell a god to shape up or ship out.

I must be living wrong.

So many questions to ask.  I wanted a name, but a trickster would just have used someone else’s… or his or her own, just to be perverse.  Besides, it didn’t have to be one of our gods.  It could have been one inimical to humanity, or belonging to something else entirely.  What kind of grudge would it carry, should we manage this?  And politics were involved; did this authority want them removed for sure, or was it just her and her family’s opinion that this was a bad thing?  Exactly who was I crossing, and how deep would this go?

“What matter of compensation do I receive for this boon?” I asked.  I realized that for all they could bluff it out, I was doing them a favor.  I didn’t have anything invested into whether or not an old one sat on a fey doorstep and hung out past the end of the party.  Mankind and the world as I knew it wasn’t in danger.  I wasn’t the only hope for my world against the combined might of the forces of darkness.

“You are confident,” she noted.

Actually, I was so far beyond the bend into the countryside of “Clowns Will Eat Me”-sville, I’d almost wrapped around into, “Sure.  I can do anything,” bravado.

But it wouldn’t do to tell that to a girl.