Grotta

‘Not all things are to be discovered; many are better concealed.’

-Sophocles.

Down a ladder, Lucius realised he was in an abandoned bunker from the war. It was dark, but it was a clear night, and the moonlight flooded the room freely, holding lesser fear than he. In this natural ambiance his eyes wandered, and around him were four empty passages. At his feet was a pentacle, not etched but formed by the brickwork, and if he had cared to look closer he would have noticed figures drawn within the star’s circle.

Per his friend’s instructions, he recited the evocation carefully, and without haste, and then announced twice into the air “Beelzebub!” and paused, as if unsure, then repeated himself once more in whisper.

The room felt instantly cold to him, and Lucius saw his breath enough to know it was; his heart doubled in pace; and the hairs at his nape rose poised, all the whole thing made him shiver at once.

It was then, that I, not hidden in one of the corridors, but at his square direction, suddenly came into his focus. Like shadow, rays of moon would not illuminate or touch; I possessed a coldness, but not menace or malice much.

Lucius took a step back and hit the ladder he had descended, still eying me at his fore, and I matched Lucius, taking an antipodal step. The light around me was dim, but Lucius thought he saw a human face attached to my dark form.

“Lucius I believe,” said I matter-of-factly.

Somehow, the young man’s courage stayed within him, and he did neither faint nor falter at the sight of me, he did not die of cold sweat. He ceased his unease and with some incredible strength stared right at me.

“You summoned me?” I asked breaking silence again, but perhaps the man thought I enjoyed the sound of my own voice.

“Yes,” Lucius bravely affirmed in the baritone. “And are you the devil?”

I could not help it, but I replied with impert, “Could I be imposterous? Would another lurk, think you, in my place? Here? It is frightful.”

“Damn you,” muttered Lucius with impatience.

I rejoindered not from insult but to keep my company in his proper place, “Damn me? Damn… me?

Lucius cleared his throat and apologised, though his air of confidence was not disappeared, so I continued, “I am the devil. So help me, if ye are not careful...” I stopped however, and looked him over. He seemed the type not to relent to anything I offered. I realised in that instance, that it was not confidence Lucius had, but moral fibre. So I eased and lowered my composure, “It matters not. Dear boy, you called unto me. I pray thee confirm, what is it you desire?”

Lucius hesitated, “Well…”

“Now, Lucius, would you really come all this way without request? Is there nothing you long for? Wealth? youth? knowledge? power? Anything you ask, I will grant you.”

My guest replied, “What of love?” and I admit, it had never crossed my mind that he should ever ask for that.

“Love you say? Love, and nothing else?”

“Yes,” said he from the heart, “love. Surely you are gifted enough to grant such a wish?”

That the young man would doubt my ability, despite the difficulty of the request, nearly had me seethe, but I relaxed, and I implored, “Whose love is it you cannot live without? you cannot acquire by oneself?”

“Kali Lily Byrde. I wish only for her love.” Lucius was in a daze, and his mouth was agape simply thinking of her.

To make someone lust after another was no uneasy task, and in perpetuity Lucius’ wish could be arranged. The price would be the same, but love was unachievable, I could not fan that flame. Nevertheless, I was hungry, and if I did my job well, Lucius would never know the difference.

“Done,” I lied, “My fee will be your soul. Do we have a deal?”

“Will I be able to leave here safely?” Lucius asked realising his mortality. He stepped to the edge of the pentacle, which he had been warned to not yet cross.

“Of course. No harm will come to you, and only on your deathbed is your soul mine.”

A small smile collected upon his face, and he said with certainty, offering his wrist, “Well then, where do I sign?”

“Blood in place of ink is much preferred and very nice, but your hand let me assure you, shall definitely suffice.” I stuck out my hand in agreement, and Lucius looked it over cautiously, before he reached out.

With three decisive shakes, the contract was complete. But something strange happened, or rather, nothing happened. Something I could not explain. I shook his hand no different than anyone else, yet my magic seemed to take no effect. I was worried it hadn’t worked, though I smiled, to reassure him. Before he met with his beloved in the morning, I unfortunately had to determine whether she would lust after the naïve young Lucius, for if not, I would have no choice but to cut up the contract, and relinquish my claim to his soul. I backed away and married the shadow, and Lucius returned up the ladder, where the skies began to cloud.

The End

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