Ceris just did that to me. She popped up and did the "I want to tell you about how we met the demon!" So, being a nice guy, I had to write it down.
So here, without further ado, is the first scenelet from His Bright Designs.
It wasn't until the demon threw up and started to cry that I began to think that something had gone seriously askew.
It didn't look much, as demons go. Not that I'd ever seen a demon before, but I'd read about them in some of Mik's books, and they're supposed to be huge and scary with savage fangs and claws and eyes that rotate in several directions at once. This one was just small and hideous. I know that Mother says that people's looks vary (not that I've even noticed that much, because I haven't actually seen many people) and that it's no reflection of their character or anything else, but honestly!
Imagine a person, rather on the short side, with skin that's too pale, scrunched-up hair the colour of kayahapa fur, eyes that aren't eye-colour at all but a sort of greenish blue, and little brown blotches all over its face. Then make it have too many fingers and toes - I didn't count, not then, but it was obvious that there were too many. That'll give you an idea of what Tober's demon looked like. Rather ugly, yes?
I say it was Tober's demon, but we all know he'd never have had the strength to pull it in if Mik and I hadn't been there to 'help', so it was just as much our fault as his. He'd really only asked us in to watch, which was perfectly reasonable - even Mother doesn't like working alone, and she's far more powerful than he is - but he always gets in such a muddle with everything, and it ended up with Mik having to draw the circle and then I had to run to the stores and get more incense because Tober trod in the receptacle. Thank the stars it wasn't lit yet.
Perhaps Mik and I might have worked out that everything wasn't quite going to plan when Tober started mumbling during the summoning. Neither of us could catch his words, but he certainly didn't look happy. The thing is, you see, it's really not a good idea to interrupt someone while they're working, because all kinds of things can go wrong, so we just looked at each other and tried to work out what was going on without saying anything in case we distracted Tober. He really wouldn't have been happy if it had been just a touch of indigestion and we'd wrecked his summoning for no point.
You see, it wasn't an ordinary summoning. Tober insisted he had to, just had to, have a familiar, and summoning a familiar is something you get a chance at perhaps every few years if you're lucky. Mik had tried to talk him out of it, but you know what Tober's like when he gets an idea wedged into his head. Of course he knew how to do it. Of course he'd studied all the relevant texts. Of course he'd worked out exactly what kind of familiar he wanted. And he was going to summon it whether or not Mik liked the idea, because he just wasn't prepared to wait any longer. Now, everybody with half a brain knows that even though ordinary summonings aren't exactly difficult, they're still work, and work demands total concentration, total commitment, and total discipline. Get anything wrong, let your mind wander, even sneeze at the wrong moment, and the best that you can hope for is that the spirit falls off your hook and just makes your reputation mud among the spirits for a while. That happens, even to the best worker. The next worst thing is that you land entirely the wrong spirit and you have to spend forever dispelling it. It took Mother the best part of a week that time she misjudged her cast and pulled up an irch, and irches aren't particularly nasty, just... awkward. And embarrassing. Summoning familiars, worse happens more readily.
Let's not think about the worse things.
Anyway, something had obviously got Tober's head askew while he was summoning - we didn't find out why until later, after we'd got the mess cleared up - and he'd landed something bad. A demon, no less. He'd finished off the chants, and cast and tested and pulled, and we pulled along with him, because we didn't know what was happening, and then suddenly his eyes bugged out and he went a nasty beige colour and put out his hands, as though the silly boy thought he could push whatever was coming through back again. Before either Mik or I could say anything, let alone start to reweave with him so that we had access to his senses and could find out what was wrong, there was this awful squee-glorping sound and the demon appeared.
I've already told you what it looked like. What made it even odder was that it was wearing clothing. I should have mentioned that earlier, but I forgot. It wasn't proper clothing, just like it wasn't a proper person, but it obviously was supposed to be clothing because it covered up most of the demon's nasty pale skin, thank goodness. I think it would have looked even more horrid naked. Anyway, the clothing was a sort of jacket and trousers in a pale blue material, rather baggy, and tied round its waist with a kind of cord. The jacket had round things on it where you'd expect toggles, but they held it shut.
Tober just squatted there gawping at the demon, so it fell to me and Mik, as usual, to take charge. Mik knows all about banishments, thank the stars, so he started with the First Minor, and then when that didn't shift it, he switched to the Second Minor. He didn't finish it, though, because the demon looked all around as though it was actually surprised to be here, and then it threw up all over. Proper throwing up, you know - breakfast-lunch-and-dinner heaving, not slime or Prima Materia or anything demonic - just like a person with an unhappy gut, and then... well, I was there, so don't doubt me, it screwed up its horrid little eyes and began to bawl like a baby.