Slowly rising from the flames, a fiery creature stood before them, the skull hovering in place as the mandible stretched wide. The twin orbs glowed red within the skull, and a low moan issued forth from the skull before a sickening cough wracked the entity.
“Why have you called me to this world my children?” The being asked, smoke billowing around it to create an ashen skin that filled with fire. A long tail grew from the slowly forming body, wrapping tightly within the circle around the spirit’s frame.
Martha stepped forward. “Lord, we seek your power to aid us in our struggles. We are but weak-willed servants of flesh…”
The being waved an arm to silence Martha, it’s eyes boring directly into Opal’s. She sweated, partially due to the blazing fire in front of her, as it leaned forward. “You,” he said, pointing a newly formed finger at her. “You’re the one who gathered the skull to make this conversation possible.”
“Y-yes…” Opal answered, not sure how to respond otherwise.
“You have given me your blood, and shed blood in my name?” The being asked again, his voice growing thicker as the crackling fire rose in pitch.
“Yes, I offered you my blood. And yes,” Opal said, eyes darting to her father. “I killed the man whose skull you are now possessing. He was trying to hurt me, and I slit his throat before cutting his head off.”
“And you used the Dagger of Mawat to do this?” The creature asked it’s face forming over the skull, sharp fangs of smoke and ash replacing human teeth, a sharp and spiky mane of hair growing from his head and sliding down his back. The tail had taken on definition; wicked barbs present that looked like they could seriously hurt someone should the spirit not be caged as it was. Human faces welled up against the bloated body of the creature, all moaning in agony.
Souls that he’d harvested from foolhardy people who’d summoned him, wasted his time. Opal licked her dry lips, choosing to remain strong in the face of the Patron that granted her family luck in times of strife.
“I did,” Opal confirmed, thinking of the dreaded ritual dagger she’d just used on her finger. She was still holding it in one hand, the flint having fallen to the dirt by her feet.
“Than the pact has begun, we must now barter terms and then seal the deal with a trade,” the creature said with a tone of finality. “What is it you seek, young witch?”
“We seek aid against those who would cause us harm-” Martha began before the beast turned on her, growling low in the throat, embers dancing from the flames.
“I didn’t ask you! I asked the one who made the pact! Her will is what dictates the terms of our agreement.”
Opal thought for a moment, thinking about what she could really use. A sudden idea came to mind. “Land.” She said. “Lots of land, in fertile soil here in the United States. In the panhandle of Texas.”
“Land?” Martha cried, looking at Opal as if she were mad, her voice carrying that tone, the one that promised pain.
“Easily done, you’ve already earned such a trifle. What else?”
“I want the power to defend myself, to put the fear of the old ones into whatever town I’m close to so that they treat me fairly,” Opal said, looking at her growling mother. “And I want money, no… scratch that, I want gold. I want deeds to gold and silver mines, fresh ones, to come into my possession.”
“This is now getting pricey,” the creature wheedled. “How do you expect to pay for all of this?”
Opal smiled. “I’ll sign my bloodline into your service… to fulfill whatever long-term goals are. My children, my grandchildren, they will serve.”
“And if they don’t?” The creature asked, leaning forward so it’s blazing red eyes bored into Opal’s.
She stared right back at him. “Then they’ll be sacrificed to you upon their twenty-first birthday.”
“Excellent answer!” The creature, Shylock, hissed. He leaned back and waved his arms out, a torrent of smoke rising up in columns around him. He waited as smoky figures swirled around him, rising from the flames, moaning in abject agony before he snatched one, ripping it from wherever the spirits dwelled. This one was a rakishly thin man, bony arms and legs dangling as it struggled against the demon’s grip.
“Martha!” The demon growled. “Bring forth the book!”
She looked surprised for a moment, before looking down at her leather-bound tome, the waxy hide flawed by the ragged stitching crossing over the front of the book. She stepped forward and held it out.
“Samedi!” The monster bellowed, taking the book in his hand, a dark shadow radiating out from around the book. “You are to serve the O’Leary bloodline as long as it survives. This is your penance and your punishment. Do you understand?”
The brittle looking spirit clawed at the demon’s forearm, swearing worse than any sailor as it fought for freedom. The demon shook him hard to gather his attention.