You are happily going about your day when you vanish in a puff of smoke. Suddenly you’re standing in a ring of candles. A sorcerer holding a tome looks pleased at your arrival. Turns out Earth is hell, and we’re the demons, and you’ve just been summoned. -- Chara Dreemurr
Most low-wage jobs involve a stupid cardboard hat and the phrase, "can I take your order". None of them involve the chance to sit down because people like to see the underpaid working for their pittance. This one had equally daft plastic horns as part of the polyester uniform because Caf-fiend was that type of place.
So when Mar stepped through the steam of the bean roast and into a circle of runes, it was not quite obvious that things had gone awry. The stockroom was famously blowing out lights and the smell was similar to that of the dungeon. It was the feel of the cobblestone floor beneath her sandshoes that alerted her that something was off. That, and the robed figure with the enormous tome. Also the skulls currently being used as candleholders. The dead chicken on the stone altar was a definite violation of health and safety regs.
"Avaunt, foul fiend," said the hooded being. "Thou art mine and must therefore do my bidding."
"What?" she said.
"Avaunt, foul seductress from the nether pits! Thou art bound and my minion until I dismiss thee! Bend to my will, temptress!"
Mar stared at him. Seductress? Temptress? Her? The last time she'd glanced at a mirror, her look was the same as any millennial lucky enough to have two to four jobs - permanently tired, and the sort of skin tone/physique combo one could only get from too little sun and too many carbs. "Sorry. I... didn't get the memo. What's going on?"
"I have summoned you here, succubus, to do my will on this plane, and no more. Thou shalt not tempt me with your perfection, for my will is great and my power even greater."
Okay. Whatever. It beat the shit out of scrubbing toilets. Mar shrugged. "Yeah, fine, don't expect much, though."
"My first demand, demon, is wealth. Render unto me treasure enough to purchase a kingdom."
Mar snorted. "Listen. If I could do that, I wouldn't be wearing this sucky uniform or working four jobs just to pay the rent. I can't snap my fingers--" she snapped her fingers, "--and make it... rain... pennies... from heaven..." but she had. Pennies were manifesting. Spontaneously appearing close to the rafters and jingling down on the cobble floor. She snapped her fingers again and said, "Silver." Now the copper coins were bright, shining silver coin. Snap, "Gold," and gold coin rained down. Snap, "Diamonds," bright, sparkling diamonds worth millions. Snap, "Rubies," blood red and glistening with richness. Snap, "Emeralds." Snap, "Pearls."
Mar snapped her fingers again, laughing. "Holy shitballs that was amazing! If I could do that back where I'm from... Damn, son."
"And cease your blasphemous tongue."
Okay. So he wasn't hot on swearing. She could deal. It wasn't as if he demanded she pay for her own hairnets or follow some heinous instructions for out-of-fashion makeup or had a dress code. Hell, it had been twenty minutes and he hadn't even tried to touch her anywhere. As far as bosses went, this was a win. "Sorry. I could never do that before. Like. Just a handful of this mess would solve so many problems, you know?"
He was busy sweeping the wealth up into sacks. "You cannot bring the things of this world into your realm, demoness. Even the lowest of fools knows that that is folly."
Mar sneaked one of the gemstones in her circle into her pocket anyway. Worth a shot. "So... what's next on your wish list, bossman?"
Sweep, sweep, sweep. "The heart of the fair lady Ellysandra."
Mar winced. "Okay. There's a lot that can go wrong with that wording. One, I could actually remove her heart and have it here and her dead. That's not in my moral calendar, so no snappy the fingie. Two, forcing love would not be real. That's... euw. That's just gross. That's nasty. Not doing it. However... I could give you some pointers. Some hints and tips. Some ways you could win her attention, you know?"
Sweep. Sweep. "Why would I want her attention when you could just give me her love?"
"Don't be gross. Love has to be earned or it isn't worth it. I mean, what do you even like about this woman?"
He described her physically. There was nothing in there about her personality, the things she liked, or even the little flaws that he thought were cute. No, it was all breasts and raven hair and milky skin. Mar gagged a little, and decided to see if she could manifest a person matching that description.
Snap. There was someone like that. Or something like someone like that. It was a puppet. Empty of will. Mar was fine with playing with that. Mar snapped her fingers again and made it perform abject adoration towards her 'master'.
He seemed happy, and dismissed Mar back to the stockroom of Caf-fiend without any further care. No time had passed, apparently. At least, the supervisor wasn't chewing her out for taking too long to fetch another batch of frozen cruller dough.
At her first chance, she checked her pockets for the gem. It was just a rock, here. Damn.
Two weeks later, when she was working in Hamburger Hell, another cloud of smoke had her standing in the circle again, with a much better-dressed, though pissed-off, dude in a robe in a basement. His 'lady' was attached to his leg. "MAKE IT STOP!"
Mar snapped her fingers. "False love isn't what it's cracked up to be, is it, Tiger?"
"That - that thing is not what I wanted!"
"It's what you said you wanted. Milky skin. Curvaceous breasts. Raven hair. Everything you liked."
"But it's not her."
"Yeah, like I'd do that to a real person. You see how gross it is, right? To love an object and not a person?"
"Yes, yes. Dismiss that homunculus at once. I am done with it."
Snap. It was so much smoke. "So. This lady Ellysandra. Do you talk to her?"
"Uhm..." said the sorcerer.
Typical incel nerd. Mar restrained herself from rolling her eyes. "You're just infatuated with the idea of her. You can't really love someone without knowing them first. Talk to her. Strike up some conversations. Get to actually know the person."
"But that's hard," he whined.
"Yeah," said Mar, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Want me to snap you up some courage?"
"No, no, nonononono..." he urgently waved his hands. "No. Thank you. I shall do this myself."
Two weeks later, and he had her back. "SHE'S DUMBER THAN A BAG OF ROCKS HOW THE HELL CAN I HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH THIS WOMAN, OH MY GODS..."
Mar laughed. "See? This is why you should get to know people. So she only talks about surface stuff? Weather and the price of pomegranates and how good so-and-so's surcoat is looking?"
"Needlework," he said. "As if I care what an overhem lock stitch is."
"You might if you made your own robes," Mar told him. "Don't sneer at fibrecrafts until you've tried them yourself."
"The point is that she and I are in totally different realities. She doesn't care about the natural philosophy behind why a flower is shaped the way it is... she just goes on about the spiritual significance of the colours and whether fairies would sip from it. Faeries don't. They much prefer the blood of foolhardy men."
Mar laughed. "Sounds like my kind of people."
"She can't tell the difference between astronomy and astrology, and that hurts," he complained.
Mar said, "Yeah, you need yourself a nerd girl. Just... don't geek check her as a means of making sure she's worthy of being your friend? That's a guaranteed turn-off. Nerd girls have a hard enough time just being nerds, okay?"
"There aren't any--" he stopped. Paced the room. "They said the third time I summoned a demon, I would set it free of the circle. They said it was inevitable. Now I see why." He had a pair of silver bracelets. "If you put these on, you will not be able to perform acts of purposeful harm, but you will be free to roam my world and go where you whist, and do as you whist otherwise."
Mar said, "What's the catch?"
"That is the catch. You are free to go where you will and do as you will. I... I have a much better time conversing with you than I have... any other maiden in my world."
She said, "Dude, in this universe, I can literally make it rain money. Just let me have a comfy chair and some wifi and I am great."
That, and it didn't exactly hurt that her pasty, padded self was an example of high-class beauty in this realm. Or that she could do other demonic things... like getting a USB to connect on the first try. It was not a shock to learn that her place of origin was hell. It actually made a buttload of sense.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / digifun]
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