"Because I Said I Would"
When Shaeth came out
of his temple to investigate
an odd sound he'd heard, he
found Belfegar and Agricole
sitting on the steps teaching
Trobby the words of a hymn.
The thing was a thousand years old,
and it was a paean to the God of Evil.
"Stop this at once!" Shaeth snapped.
"That is no longer my sphere of influence,
and it is improper to sing that song here."
"But I thought you liked that music,"
Belfegar said in a wounded tone.
Well, he had, but now it just
brought up bad memories.
Shaeth pinched the bridge of
his nose. "I liked the sounds, but I
no longer support the sentiments."
"We're helping Trobby put new words
to it, though," Agricole said. "It's
not a hymn of evil anymore."
"Yeah, this thing will make
a great drinking song when
we're finished," Trobby said.
He picked up a beer bottle and
began thumping it on the step.
So that was what Shaeth heard.
"All right, Agricole, give us
the original again," Trobby said.
Agricole opened his mouth
and belted out the lyrics:
"Batter down the gates
Shatter all the walls
Summon he who hates
For the fury calls ..."
"Uh huh, so it's got
that great beat, and
we turned it into this,"
Trobby said, then sang:
"Bottle up the drinks
For the tavern calls
As the sunset sinks
Into twilight's halls ..."
To Shaeth's surprise,
that actually sounded good.
"I supposed if you change
the words, I can live with it,"
the God of Drunks relented.
"Great," Trobby said, "because
we're stuck on the next line."
"Streets run red with blood,"
Agricole warbled gamely.
"We've gone through the words
that we can think of and they all
sound terrible -- mud, crud, dud,"
Belfegar lamented. "We want
to keep the rhyme because
the next line uses 'flood' and
that goes great with drinking."
"Wine as red as blood,"
Shaeth said absently.
"Oh, oh, that's perfect!"
Trobby said. "Write it down!"
Belfegar wrote it down,
his charcoal scratching
the start of the next verse.
"Why do you keep doing
these things?" Shaeth asked,
baffled by the man's devotion.
"Because I said I would,"
Belfegar replied. "My Lord,
I made a promise to you
to serve and worship you
for all my days and in all ways,
and that I shall continue to do."
"But I'm no longer the God of Evil!"
Shaeth said. "I am not the same one
to whom you swore that oath."
"It does not matter," Belfegar said.
"I did not pledge myself to the God of Evil.
I pledged myself to you, Shaeth, and I will
serve you whether you are the God of Evil,
the God of Good, or the God of Drunks."
Shaeth couldn't think of a good retort
to that, and so he said nothing.
When he didn't protest, his followers
soon resumed their efforts to rewrite
a battle hymn into a drinking song.
The music was familiar, like the sound
of Belfegar and Agricole worshipping him,
but the flavor was different. They'd put in
the wine now, and Shaeth could nearly taste it.
Most of his worshippers were new, but he had
a few who had followed him from his old life
into his new one, like Belfegar and Agricole.
Something about the bond between them
had refused to break, no matter what he did.
Maybe it really was as simple as that --
these few had sworn themselves to him
instead of his sphere of influence.
That, Shaeth thought, was
something he could drink to.