* * *
Shendu poured a measure of gin and drank it slowly, savoring the taste. Then he turned and hurled the glass against a nearby wall.
He stared at the fallen glass shards, hands trembling and curling reflexively into fists. His whole body would start shaking soon if he didn't calm down, he knew. But calm was the farthest thing from his mind. He couldn't let go of the gin-taste on his tongue, of the way the alcohol slid down his throat. It should have been disgusting and horrible, too mortally mundane for a demon sorceror such as himself.
But Valmont drank gin. Valmont liked gin.
The shaking had spread up this arms. He wrapped them around himself, trying to still the accursed limbs. Valmont was a skilled martial artist; his body shouldn't react in such an out-of-control fashion.
Under normal circumstances, Shendu would have blamed his host for this failure. However, he had been forced to take drastic measures to regain control after the slow fall back to Earth. Valmont wasn't precisely intact right now, much less capable of causing this sort of disruption.
But it happened more and more of late, ever since he had tried to free Tso Lan. Some days he could barely write, because he could not stop shaking.
A horrible thought occurred to him, and he snatched up the gin-bottle to take a swig. Valmont's mind and soul acted as the interface between the demon-spirit and the mortal flesh. Smashing the human's mind like that had been the wrong move to make.
With a roar, he smashed the bottle against the wall. Glass flew back, cutting his hands and face. He couldn't reassemble Valmont as he had been. Even if he had more than moderate skill in psionics, he had destroyed portions of the human's psyche. The only way to replace them would be to weave Valmont into his own mind, and that would lead to more blending than ever before.
Gin ran down the wall and pooled on the floor. Blood oozed from his hands and dropped to the floor to mix with the gin. He stared at it, fire lurking at the edge of his mind.
He was one of the eight demon sorcerors. He had ruled China of old, and had drunk yellow wine in the presence of comely maidens. No human should be privy to his mind, let alone able to influence him.
But he still mourned the wasted gin.