Chapter 19 - Personal Improvement Plan - Step 2: Guidelines for Improvement

Elric opened his eyes and lowered his hands. The goblin form of Ventus stood in front of him, wide eyed and mouth slightly open. The demon Francis came running quickly from the other side of the room carrying a bandoleer holding several potions.

The smell of burnt clothing and hair filled Elric’s nose. He shook a little as his body tried to decide what it was going to do, it settled on screaming.

“Aaaahhh!!” Elric said, screaming as he fell to his knees. The cool stone floor touched his skin where his pants had burned away.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean.” Ventus said rushing towards Elric. A slight haze from the fire still surrounded Elric.

Francis appeared at Elric’s side and quickly pressed an open potion into the mans lips. Forcefully the demon tilted Elric’s head back and the contents dumped into the mans body. Black ash coated the man so after the first potion was administered the demon conjured a little wind. The breeze scattered the ashes and haze allowing everyone to examine the damage.

Kneeling on the stone floor in ragged and burnt clothing was an uninjured man. His hair was gone, but his skin appeared to be whole and unburnt. Francis and the goblins mouth hung agape.

“How are you alive,” Ventus said. “Not that I wanted to kill you, that was an accident.” The goblin quickly uttered some words of power to alter his vision.

“I, uh, I’m sorry,” Elric babbled as tears of joy appeared on his face. He regained some composure, “Whatever it was I promise I wont do it again.” Carefully Elric grasped at the remnants of clothing still hanging from his body. Francis pulled a robe out of a pocket and handed it to the nearly naked man.

“I do not say this lightly, but I am truly sorry.” Ventus said. The goblin gestured to a desk with some chairs nearby and walked over there. “It appears Eft sensed my mood when I spoke to him earlier. The goblin apparently saved your life, and saved me the expense of trying to heal you.”

“What do you mean?” Elric said. He put on the robe and with help of Francis, shakily walked over to the desk.

“Did you drink anything Eft had given you recently?”

“No," Elric immediately said, then a moment of silence before, “oh wait.”

“I do not let my rage define me, but it appears Eft was able to sense today would be such a day.”

“So I’m not going to die?”

“No, I’m not going to kill you for something you didn’t know about.”

“But I did, I spread the rumor to annoy the crap out of M’anus.”

“No not that, the other thing.”

“And it is…?”

“What I am about to tell you cannot leave this room. Francis already knows and I’m sure others do too, but it is a tightly guarded secret.”

Elric raised his eyebrows and almost started tapping his food as a moment of silence held the room. When Ventus didn’t seem to be willing to go further, “Ok, I promise I won’t tell anyone.” Elric said. As soon as he spoke the words he felt something tighten around his insides, not his heart, but more of his persona.

“Divine power is based off faith.”

“Yeah, everyone with a little knowledge in religion knows that, the gods with the most followers hold more sway in the realm of the divine.”

“Correct, but not complete, do you know how new gods are chosen?”

“The fates?” Elric said, instinctively he scratched his head.

“No, and the secret is that the people choose who the new gods will be. If you believe in something, pray to it, place the power of your faith in such an object, person, or ideal, it can manifest divine power.”

“So if I pray to Eft he can become the god of Goblins.”

“Only if you can get a few thousand friends to do the same, and truly believe it so. Also I think if a divine portfolio is already filled it is a bit harder. I think you have to usurp the current holder by exceeding their followers.”

Elric sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. Ventus allowed the silence to hold and waited for Elric to speak.

“So by getting stupid drunk people to pray to M’anus, he achieved godhood.” Elric said before he finally sat in the chair at the desk. “He can’t be defeated?”

“Oh, you can still kill a god, especially a low one. However if he realizes it, and knows the secret, he could start a church and converting thousands. At the point the two constants come into play and we are throughly screwed.”

“Fuck, just kill me then. Better to die by a dragon than getting smited by a god of shit.”

“Again, that was an accident and I am truly sorry. No, we must come up with a plan to destroy him before he can seize his newfound power.” Ventus said and then stood up from the desk. He walked over to Elric and patted him on the shoulder. “Go and get some rest. Tomorrow, you, Eft, and I are going to make some plans.”

“Will I need another fire protection potion?”

“No, but I will beat you to death with Francis if you do something that stupid again.”

“Beat me to death with Francis?” Elric tilted his head as he tried to imagine the scene but his mind couldn’t work it out. Shakily the man stood up, pulled his robes tight and headed towards the door. Elric stopped after a few steps, “Does this change the payment I requested when I complete my contract here?”

“Only if this M’anus kills us all before we stop him. Don’t worry Elric, I will fulfill my end of the contract and bring your wife and daughter back when your time is complete.” Ventus said and then gave a little shoo’ing motion with his hand.

Elric stepped through the doors and noticed one of the guards was a bit more wide eyed than usual. Smirking and unable to stop himself Elric said, “Don’t ask for a raise.”

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