Silence settled as Raven composed himself. This could be a challenge to the old trickster.
But he’d lost the bet fair and square, or at least due to being out-cheated at his own con game, so he felt like he should at least try to make good on his marker. He had promised to answer a question truthfully. And no matter how much it stung to do so, justice would not be served if he prevaricated this time. But how to do it. He nervously paced back and forth waiting the question that might seal his fate.
He was especially annoyed at himself for allowing things to go so far. His mission was to deliver a specific bit of mis-information, and now that he was bound to only tell the truth, how could he possibly achieve that.
Wait, a minute. What was it he had really promised? Surely not all truth, all the time, and the whole and complete truth? No! He’d only promised to answer a single question truthfully. Surely he could twist that promise to allow delivery of more than just the truth. As long as the question was not directly about his lie, at least.
He stopped pacing and looked across the fire, expectantly.
“Come on now, there must be something you want to know about.”
The village’s eldest spoke for those assembled. “There is any number of things we might enjoy making you admit to. Plans gone awry. Deals that were actually too good to be true. That recent business with the children and the snowman. But those all seem like a petty use of the boon you have granted. Instead, we want to know why you are here, tonight, making this bargain.”
Damn. He hit the nail right square on the head. But I still can’t help but chortle a bit about the snowman, which was funny right until that carrot got lodged in my craw.
“You know me too well to trust me. Why do you trust me now? Because you want to trust me, just as you always want to trust me.”
There. That at least set the right tone. Perhaps I can get around this by telling the lie in the way I tell the truth.
“There is a conflict affecting those who walk among you. It could spill over to bother some who are more strictly mortal.”
A half-truth is still true.
“We are everywhere. Unseen. Sometimes even unknown to ourselves. But the conflict is real, and affects all of us whether or not we know we are playing the game. You need to know this, or at least some of this. One of you gentlemen may be involved.”
That should get them thinking. Still true, even if I’m hoping one of the younger ladies is actually hearing me. A lady who is younger only by appearance. She won’t ordinarily trust me, hence this ploy.
“This is bigger than my pride.”
A half truth. At least I can admit to myself that my pride is pretty big, even if I’d never admit it to these people.
“And you needed to know.”
At that, I made a show of bursting into flight, brushing many of those seated around the fire with my wing tips as I took to the air and left through the open door.