A man sells his soul for the woman he loves to love him back. But the Devil falls in love with the same woman.
‘All things can corrupt when minds are prone to evil.’
At the crossroads of Snakeroot and Fiddlewood, he saw a streak of light fill the starless sky, and erupt with thunder which shook the earth at his feet, and tingled through him, all the way to his spine. The air smelled of mildew after cool rain but it felt as dry as charring in the desert. No sounds echoed across the land, no howling, no chirping, no hooting, only pure, unadulterated silence. It was dark there, even for midnight, and John looked for the quarter moon but never found it.
In the must of the dark, and the cold which stood hairs at end that night, he was stooped at the centre of the dirty byroads, at a hole in the ground he alone, had unscooped. Then he felt a brief and unwelcome breeze touch his skin, and fetter his garb, until it disappeared, when he filled in the gap. John thought the wind too strong to have brushed his shoulder, a strong broad shoulder but sensitive to the touch of hands unseen by his own eyes. Moreover, it was a wind with whispers, whereby John had heard, Salve, and, Quae petitio tua. So he rose in that instant slow, and revealed when he blinked open, to discern a tall figure clad in black, enrobed in shadow. The figure shifted too much to be clear, but didn’t move, for John to hear, “Good morning, John. What want ye, and doth ye here?”
A simple question that needn’t explanation, yet John saw fit to ask, and ask he did, “Who are you?” and, “what do you intimate?”
His speaker didn’t contemplate, it was merely his demeanor, but soonly said in tongue and tow, “John, I think you know.”
John was anxious and aghast of course, but he had never felt as afraid as he did now. Now, he was in the presence of a being without being, a creature of life and death, and darkness without enmity. But not one of the damned, not one of his servants; here with John to-night was Beelzebub himself.
“You summoned me, John, and now behold, I am here. How might I, for thee, assist?”
Where eyes should be, flashed a bright red, two, staring, and evil, and John couldn’t tell but he swore there was a smile to match, which he imagined was only filled with the decaying incisors used to tear his victims’ still-beating hearts from their chests.
John was sweating, and having difficulty remaining composed, and standing tall. He was troubled to keep his eyes from closing, though there was nothing to see, yet a few breaths later, he once again was comfortable. The air was more soothing, warmer, and a glimmer of moonlight flickered between the thick blanket of clouds. At ease on the stranger’s account.
“Tell me, John, did not ye call unto me with the invokations? for I see no other,” said he, gesturing across the vacant and emptiness, which those two inhabited.
“I did. O, indeed I did!”
“Good,” and the dark prince nodded from the shade, in an agreeable mood to sustain his appetite, for fear did not alone fuel him, desire did also. How much more the thirst of man fulfilled him than that of his fear would satiate the bloodlust of many of his minions, yet, this still was not what the stranger craved.
“What can I have?”
“Anything your heart desires, John. Wealth. Youth. Knowledge. Power.” sneered the rogue.
“But at what price?”
The devil chuckled lightly, and offered a large left, pale and gaunt with long bony fingers, and served his answer with a handshake, “Your soul.”