Demonology Book Club
By George Lockett 
The demon manifested within the binding circle in a violence of hellfire. She was huge, livid flesh knotted with muscle, capped with a pair of long, curving horns.
“I am Shaldavar, mighty corrupter!”
The sorceress Alkane rolled her eyes.
“Tremble, mortal! I am the taker of souls, mighty—”
“Corrupter, yeah, I got that.”
The demon’s eyes flashed. “Why did you summon me? Do you desire money? Power? Pleasure that mortal hands cannot provide?”
The demon bared needlepoint teeth. “Then what?”
“A chat.”
Shaldavar blinked. “A… chat?”
“A conversation, yes. I’m not exactly drinking buddies with the townsfolk here. You understand, right? People only call for you when they want something?”
Shaldavar made a guttural sound. “And for this… conversation, you would surrender your soul?”
Alkane shook her head. “If you’re only doing it for my soul, you’re only talking to me because you want something.”
Shaldavar growled in frustration and fury. The circle’s barrier threw off blue sparks as she pressed her palms against it. “Insolent mortal! I will open you up and pluck the bones from your still-living flesh!”
“Think about it, okay?” Alkane blew out one of the black candles and the demon discorporated in an incandescent flare.
“I am Shal— What is this?!”
Alkane had expanded the summoning circle to include a sturdy stool and leather-bound book. 
Ruminations on the Arcana. I thought we could read in companionable silence. It’s a little dry, but my library is pretty limited.”
“If it’s knowledge you desire, knowledge I can provide.” The demon grinned. “For a price.”
Alkane turned the page in her own book. “No, thanks.”
The demon eyed the sigils and candles. The circle was perfect; the sorceress would have to break it herself for Shaldavar to get loose and eat her. She huffed out a sigh, then picked up the book and settled delicately onto the stool. 
At the end of a quiet hour, Alkane asked “So?”
“This was... surprisingly pleasant,” she rumbled.
“Same time tomorrow?”
“Surrender your soul?”
Alkane rolled her eyes and extinguished a candle.
Shaldavar made a noise like a millstone grinding bonemeal. “Another astronomy book?”
“You’ve been through everything else I have. I’m still trying to get hold of Xerian’s new book of fables for you.”
“If you gave me your soul—”
“Ah-ah! What’s the rule?”
Shaldavar sighed. “No work talk.” The demon paused, then plucked a bottle from beneath the chair. She looked at Alkane quizzically. 
“Beer. Figured you might need it to get through that one.”
The demon shrugged and extended the bottle towards her. 
“I believe that it is customary to touch drinking vessels.”
Alkane smiled. “To new friendships.” 
They clinked. There was the wash of dissipating energy as the neck of Alkane’s bottle broke the circle. The sorceress froze, her eyes wide. 
Shaldavar chuckled, a sound like a rockslide. Then, she settled herself on the stool, took a pull from the beer, and went back to her book. 
DreamForge Anvil © 2022 DreamForge Press
Demonology Book Club © 2022 George Lockett