The mist obediently hovers within the binding circle, coming once more and tamely to my call. How raucous it was when first I summoned it! How loudly it roared its name to the ceiling—how silent were the heavens that night. But now it is silent when it arrives, as silent as the heavens when I call, for I have bade it so. With it comes the sulfurous reek of its home and its own pets—a pair of tiny bat-winged imps no larger than my hand—and a deepening of the shadows in my basement conjury.
The fool has cast his spells of summoning again, and never were more clichéd words uttered than in this room. He thinks I am silent because he ordered me to be; I am silent because I know that were I to speak, I would reveal the true depth of his idiocy. And that simply would not do. Not now that I've invested so much time into making this little room homely. My "little" pets—if the stupid scholar knew their true shapes, he would die of fright—are seeking out more hiding spots, from which to pursue the mission I have given them. Sadly, I cannot hide all of their shapes through the bindings the heavens bestowed on me; the shadows in the basement belong to my pets.
Now the creature begins to speak—nay, to sing!—in its horrible, throaty voice and offer me all the gifts of hell in exchange for one tiny fragment of my soul. I almost agreed the first time—almost, but I remembered the writings of my disappeared master, who told me never to agree to the first deal. Demons are cunning creatures, he warned, and their best deal always comes when they have been cowed sufficiently. My dear master, I have succeeded where you have not! I shall master this demon Aakhav, and through him receive my immortal due!
Trot out the old infinite wealth for a bit of soul gig—does that ever work? I would hope it doesn't. Good, now he's rejected it and thinks himself oh so clever for seeing through the oldest trick in the book. The fact that it's even in a book should tell him something, but no. His master was at least passably clever, and figured out what I was up to before I could enact it. Killed him and fed him to my hounds. He wasn't worth any sort of eternal punishment. This one isn't worth any punishment at all. Once he comes down the next time—probably in three days' time during the height of the lunar eclipse, because that supposedly affects the power of his nonsense syllables—he'll punish himself more than adequately at the reveal of his own stupidity.
My own preparations have been made, though I am careful to never say as much, lest the demon thwart me. The mist stirs oddly, as though hearing some infernal call. But it cannot answer, for my circle holds it fast. I can almost see eyes within its mist, blinking at me. Eyes, and then teeth. But it doesn't dare to threaten me, not when I hold its true name. I have but to speak the name of Aakhav'nalish, and it will bow and scrape to my every whim. We'll see who's laughing then.
I can't suppress a yawn. No, really, I can't. I stopped listening to his inane ramblings four "summons" ago. He should be shutting up soon, thankfully. I could really use a trip to the loo. My most recent pets have already discretely hidden themselves behind those suits of armor near the staircase, and more importantly, within reflection of the mirror at the nearest landing. He'll just "reinforce" the "wards" he thinks he's embedded just on the edge of the landing. Honestly, this one is just the worst catch I've ever landed, not even worth mentioning. People used to be able to use real magic, you know? Yes, yes, the expected drama and recoil to the supposed first half of my true name. Like I would actually tell him that. His master was smart enough to look it up instead of simply "commanding it" from me. Honestly.
It will obey my commands tomorrow night, when I shall summon it before the King and all his fine ladies. We'll cause quite a stir there, and fear of the demon shall cause the King and his councilmen to give me my rightful position as the chief scholar. Every book I have read says that in the olden days, it was a mark of passage to have a properly controlled demon. A mark of passage and a requirement of advancement to the highest levels of scholarly nobility. But for now, I need to bind its essence to my prepared demon bottle. I won't have the time for a proper ritual tomorrow night, since there won't be a single unwatched corner, and I need silence to perform it. Opening the bottle with it bound will call it just as well, providing I bind it correctly. It's a finicky spell that I've spent weeks researching.
Stupid little scholar, I can hear your thoughts. You know that they abandoned that practice for a reason, don't you? Of course you don't, and you also don't know that they now train certain mundanes to sniff out actual binds, of which you have exactly zero. Good work on the bottle, though you missed out on the one ingredient that would make it actually work rather than requiring me to play along, as usual. Overdramatic resistance as I slide most of what I am permitted to reveal into the bottle—which, of course, is exactly what he doesn't want. But I leave an illusion of the mist that represents me behind, so that he suspects nothing.
Tomorrow night will be the best of my life.
It certainly will.