<b>"A friend! A friend you say. Hah!"</b> The goat woman began to laugh uproariously, slapping one of her knees with a hoot. <b>"You, a puny mortal, would impose on me to be your - what, your <i>pet goat</i>? Certainly not,"</b> she states primly, still chortling.\n\nYou frown angrily, bristling. "I-I wouldn't <i>impose</i> anything. I'm not... not forcing you. If you want to go back, you can. I memorized a spell to reverse the summoning."\n\nYour rebuttle seems to stump the Queen, for she stops in her giggles, blinking down at you dumbly. One of her ears flicks, and she raises a hoof to scratch at it, a few embers falling out of her coarse wool. <b>"Hm... well, I never. A Demon of my stature, consorting with a human? It's nonsense. Absolutely out of the question."</b> But her tone is unsure, and her eyes ping-pong from you, to your offerings, to the closed portal.\n\nYou sigh.\n\n[["I won't keep you here."|Hell3]]
The Queen snorts, blowing smoke impetuously. <b>"I get it, you can stop repeating yourself like a damned parrot."</b> She sighs. <b>"Fine. Say I was interesting in your little... proposal. What could you offer me, in return for my friendship? Which, by the by, is <i>invaluable.</i>"</b>\n\nYou think. And think. And think.\n\nFinally, you smile softly.\n\n"I can tell you stories. I can show you the Human world. I can comfort you, fight for you, defend you with my life. I can watch my favorite films with you, and help you discover favorites of your own. I can... I can make you a bit more Human. But that's all I can offer."\n\n[[The Queen seems to ponder your offer.|Hell4]]
You smile, and although it is a bit watery, it is entirely sincere. You move to pick up the novel, cradling it in your hands. You stare at the cover, running a thumb over the signatures adorning the corner. Your parents' names in their unique scripts.\n\nYou raise your head to find the Queen staring at you, eyes soft, like the snow covering the ground outside, instead of harsh, like fire and embers. She smiles.\n\n[["I would like to read it together."|Hell7]]
Your smile breaks into a grin. You slowly cover one of the Queen's sharp hooves in your hand, moving it to hover over the book's cover.\n\n"I would love to," you answer, and pull your friend into your new life.
She taps a hoof against your floor. <b>"And when you are gone? When your presence fades from this world, only remembered as they who stayed at home and took care of a burning goat? What then? Where will I go? Would you grant me this... gift, this friendship, and then snatch it away so cruelly?"</b>\n\nYou blink. You... you hadn't thought of that. Demons must live for centuries, if not for eternity. To have someone so fully, and then lose them... well. You know how it feels. Can you inflict that pain upon another?\n\nYou shake your head. "I can't say I won't hurt you by dying. I can't say I won't fuck up along the way, and harm you with my words, or my actions, unintentionally. I can only promise you that... that it will be worth it. It may hurt when I'm gone. It may eat at you. It may sting, and burn, and burn a hole right through you," you murmur with a heavy heart.\n\n[["But I promise you. It will be worth it."|Hell5]]
The hand is wispy, seeming to fade in and out of reality, it's skin a tapestry of stars, suns and planets. Suddenly, the hand scrabbles at your floor, finally grabbing onto othe foot of your bed. With a bright flash of blindingly white light, the being you've summond hoists itself up and out of the portal. You blink, slowly gaining your vision back, and gasp at the sight that awaits you.\n\nYou stare in awe at the creature before you. It is opaque, although it seems to fade into transparency at the ends of its limbs. It is naked, but lacks all signs of sex - or any organs, for that matter. It's face is a blank mask, cradling billions of galaxies inside of its mist-like skin. It hovers above the summoning circle you created, peering around your room with interest and making small chiming sounds that remind you of a cat collar's bell.\n\nFinally, it turns it's face, full of the universe, towards you. It cocks it's head, and seems to hesitate, before leaning down. It's upper body tips foward while it's lower half tips back, and suddenly you find yourself at eye level with it, while it's legs hover off the ground. The being looks as though it's lounging on a bed, rather than lounging on thin air. It chimes, cocking it's head inquisitively.\n\nYou stare, confused. You... hadn't really considered the fact that whatever you summoned wouldn't be able to converse with you - or, perhaps, simply wouldn't want to.\n\nStill, your parents raised you with good manners, bless their souls. You swallow around the sudden lump in your throat, and slowly sound out a sentence, just in case the creature is deaf as well.\n\n[["Can you speak?"|Space2]]
Tonight is the [[night|1]].
The hand is as black as night, its fingers tipped with dangerous talons, and its skin shrouded in a layer of dark feathers. The talons sink into your floor, and whatever you've summoned hoists itself up with a great flash of purple light. Your eyes slam shut, and by the time you've regained your vision, your new friend is standing in the center of the circle, the portal closed.\n\nYou stare in awe at the creature before you. It is as naked as a newborn babe, covered from head to toe in pitch black feathers. It is vaguely humanoid, with the body of a man and the head of a crow. A crown of poppies and juniper berries rests upon it's noble brow. It seems to breathe heavily once, twice, before it's eyes snap open, piercing you with their icy blue gaze.\n\n<b>"Who dares summon the King of Vagabonds?</b> The demon questions in a booming, gravelly voice. It reminds you a bit of your father - and that's a path down which you don't want to travel, so you shake your head free from the thought, offering your guest a small, bashful smile.\n\nYou state your name softly, and the crow-man before you nods, bowing shortly with a short, screeching caw.\n\n<b>"And why have you called me from my home?"</b>\n\nYou smile, answering honestly.\n\n[["To have a friend."|Bird2]]
The Queen stares at you. And stares. And stares.\n\nJust before you lose your patience, she slowly lowers herself to the ground, and points to your favorite novel with a small, alien smile. <b>"An offering must be made, to seal the bond. I will stay by your side until your soul leaves this plane. And then..."</b>\n\nShe turns her gaze to look you in the eyes.\n\n[["I will never forget you."|Hell6]]
You sit down cross-legged in front of the circle, and begin to chant under your breath.\n\nYou close your eyes... only to open them just as quickly. The circle has started to glow! Slowly, your bedroom is illuminated by purple mist. The substance seems to pour out of the circle, and fills the room with its cooling touch.\n\nYou begin to [[smile.|4]]
The night you finally get a [[friend.|2]]
The creature tilts it's head again, and then vigorously shakes it, chiming violently. You put up your hands, attempting to calm it, and it does so in an instant. The docility of the being mystifies you - how could it come from Hell, and be so... child-like? Still, knowing that it can't speak, you burn to find a way to communicate with it. After all, you pulled this thing from it's home to try and connect with it, and you aren't going to give up now.\n\nScanning your small bedroom, you spot your drawing pad. It's pages are cluttered with doodles, but the last few are clean of your messy ideas, and so you rip them from their bindings. You grab two pens and tiptoe back to the summoning circle in which the being appears to be trapped. Slowly, you hold out a piece of paper and a pen, smiling encouragingly. It chimes and flinches back, but you stand still, trying not to frighten it more than you already have.\n\nSlowly, it inches closer, until finally it snatches both the paper and pen from you. You let out a tiny laugh, and the being appears to perk up, perhaps intrigued by the noise. You point to the paper with your pen, before beginning to write. When you're done, you turn the paper back to the creature.\n\n[[What is your name?|Space3]]
It leans close to read, tracing the letters with it's fingers, before nodding vigorously and scrambling to scrawl it's own message. When it's done, it turns it's page towards you with a vibrant chirp.\n\n<b>oRiON</b>\n\nOrion chimes again, and you grin, nodding happily. "Very good," you murmur, vaguely aware that this is the calmest you've been in years. You hold up a finger, and write another message.\n\n[[Why can't you move out of the circle?|Space4]]
Orion tilts it's head, before chiming and scribbling a reply.\n\n<b>nEED a gIft fIRST</b>\n\nYou make a low murmur of understanding, and motion towards the objects you layed out for the ritual. You decide to forgo the written message, seeing as your guest seems to have gotten the hang of it. [["Do you like any of these?"|Space5]]
With a great burst of light, [[a hand emerges from the circle...|either("Bird","Space","Hell")]]
Orion's hum stops, and it begins to emit a low, repeating, joyful tweet.\n\n<b>NiCe hERE. cOmPAny. NIce.</b>\n\nThe final nice it points to, tapping as if to emphasize it. You blush, and a warmness fills you. You feel... complete. For the first time in a long, long time.\n\nStill, you have to be sure. [["Are you certain? You won't miss anyone?"|Space7]]
Orion shrugs, drifting up and back to sit in a cross-legged position. Well, it doesn't sit on the floor, but apparently levitating isn't a hard task for it.\n\n<b>CoUldn'T sPEak. nO ONe LIsTENed. FeLT... tRAPped. bETTeR hERe.</b>\n\nIt taps the last part again, humming. A great wave of melancholic happiness passes over you, and it feels as if a great weight has been lifted.\n\nYou hand the scarf to your new friend, and grin as they step out of the circle.
Laughing, you pick up the chocolate bar, raising it slowly. Before your guest can take it, you stop. Your voice shakes, but never cracks. "Just... please. Promise me you won't leave like the others."\n\nThe crow pauses in his reach for the offering, and coos. It's melodic, and soothing, and reminds you of your mother in the best ways possible.\n\n[["I promise, little one. With all my heart."|Bird7]]
Lonely No More
He shakes his head with an annoyed chaw. <b>"Didn't you research this beforehand?"</b>\n\nYou frown, disgruntled. "Of course I did! I wouldn't just open a portal to Hell all willy-nilly," you defend.\n\nThe King snorts, but subsides. <b>"Teenagers, honestly... a summoned demon cannot step outside their summoner's circle until offered a gift, thus tying them to the summoner. It's a... bond. Like a promise. Generally one of good intentions,"</b> he assured.\n\nYou tap your fingers on the ground, glancing from the offerings to the King and back. [["So... you promise not to smite me? Or take over the world? Or anything else?"|Bird5]]
The crow let out a booming, raucous laugh, before bowing so low the tip of his beak almost touched the ground. <b>"On my honor, no harm shall come to you or any other living thing in this plane."</b>\n\nYou grin, nodding, and awkwardly bow back - an olympic feat, considering you're sitting cross-leged in front of the circle. You gesture to the offerings, still smiling. "Well then. See anything you like?"\n\nImmediately, the crow straightens up and smirks.\n\n[["I'm sure you can figure it out."|Bird6]]
The King raises an eyebrow, and looks genuinely confused. <b>"A... friend? You summoned me, a demon of Hell, to be your... friend?"</b> At your hesitant nod, he barks a short laugh. It's genuine, and doesn't seem to be at your expense, but you still blush.\n\n<b>"Well, you certainly have odd taste in friends. Tell me, child, what would you want with a demon?"</b>\n\nYou bristle at being called a child, but run a hand through your hair, puffing out a sigh. "I... I have no one else."\n\n<b>"Oh, poppycock. Everyone has someone. Even I have the lost and the forgotten. You must have <i>someone</i>."</b>\n\nYou shake your head. "Oh, but you don't understand. I don't have anyone. They're all gone. My mum and da, my... everyone is gone." You refuse to cry in front of the king, so you blink hard and avoid his gaze.\n\nAbove you, he tuts. <b>"Oh, fine. Don't just sit there looking miserable, do get on with this <i>friend</i> business."</b>\n\nYour head shoots up, and you smile, although it is a bit wobbly. [["Well... what do you do?"|Bird3]]
The birdman chortles. <b>"Aside from my title? I... oh bother. If you laugh, I'll smite you where you stand,"</b> he warns, and you hold up your hands placatingly. <b>"I bake. Quite well, actually,"</b> he admits.\n\nYou grin. "My dad was a brilliant cook, but he couldn't bake to save his life. You... you could teach me," you offer.\n\nKing hums, tapping a talon against the floor. Then he points a single clawed finger towards the circle. <b>"I would, but I'm rather... held up at the moment."</b>\n\nYour brow furrows.\n\n[["Can't you move?"|Bird4]]
Orion flits closer, making a strange humming sound. It almost sounds like a purr. Finally, the being points eagerly to the scarf, before writing another reply in cramped, smudgy lettering.\n\n<b>lOok LIke aRIES</b>\n\nYour eyes widen, and you smile at Orion. It looks... softer, somehow. As if it's remembering something - some<i>one.</i> [["Do you... want to go back? Home?"|Space6]]
You've already set up the summoning circle. Offerings adorn its rim - a bar of chocolate, your favorite novel, a scarf you knitted over the course of the summer. Things that comfort you. You hope they'll help to convince your new friend to [[stay...|3]]
You smile shakily, a tear escaping your eyes, and silently shove the bar forward. It is taken quickly, and replaced with a feathered hand, quickly pulling you up, up, up.\n\nYou are whole again.\n\nYou are free.
The hand is... not a hand at all, but a cloven hoof, as black as coals. It clacks sharply on your wooden floor, and the motion dislodges small embers from the thick, matted black wool that covers its arm. Another hoof and its accompanying arm stretches out of the portal, and with a bright flash of firey red light, the creature jumps out of the hole, closing the portal behind it. You blink, slowly regaining your eyesight, and gape in awe.\n\nBefore you stands a being, devoid of clothing but covered from head to toe in murky wool. Small embers fall from it's limbs with every breath it takes - and every snuffle and sigh produces a volley of smoke from it's nostrils. For it does not have the head of a human, but a goat... and if you had to guess, it's the head of a Jacob's Sheep, practically smothered in long, sharp horns twisting this way and that. Its eyes are a bright orange, with barred pupils that dart around your room. Finally, like it's arms, it's legs end in cloven hooves, clacking on your floor unsteadily.\n\nSatisfied with it's survey, the beast turns to you and snorts, and you cough against the wave of smoke that follows. <b>"Foolish mortal! You dare disturb the High Queen?"</b> She stomps a heavy hoof, tail swatting through the tail angrily. The goat woman shuffles to the very edge of the summoning circle, leaning her head down and glaring at you.\n\n<b>"Well? Speak up, human! Who are you?"</b>\n\nStammering, you state your name as quickly as possible. The Queen snuffles, ears flicking to and fro. Finally, she nods, satisfied, and crouches down on her haunches.\n\n<b>"And why have you dragged me to this damnable place?"</b>\n\nYou pause, gathering your courage. You don't know how well she'll take an honest answer, but you have no others to offer.\n\n[["I wanted a friend."|Hell2]]