Flash Friday 16/12/2016: Jingle Hells
Deep under the city, hidden within the sewer systems, in a room so far abandoned that perhaps the people who ordered it to be build have long since died, a demon stirred.
He was not alone. Cultists scurried around in front of his throne adorned with bones and skulls. He drummed his fingers on an armrest (with a skull on the end, which made a particularly nice sound when fingers were drummed on it) as he waited for news to arrive.
Finally, a man holding a large tome and donned in a hooded red robe covering everything bar his mouth stepped forward. “Lord Ala’khan, We have confirmation from the other countries,” he said in a grave voice, despite the news being good. He never really said anything in a positive tone; he could have won the lottery and still announced it as if it were his own funeral. “They are ready for you to give the order to gather the ritual reagents.”
“Perfect,” Ala’khan said, his deep voice rattling the room. “Give the order to start collecting immediately. I’ve consulted the seers and the witch doctors, and they speak of a ritual that consists of a fresh virgin sacrifice, the blood of ten innocents, and the flayed skin of a criminal.
“Have each group gather these materials by themselves, and report back when they are finished. Meanwhile, check the Forbidden Tome for the Ritual of the Dark Sisters. Make sure you know it well, for any hesitation during its casting will prove catastrophic for you. I have sent the summons for Lady Alrein to arrive as soon as possible to aid you in your studies.”
“Very well. I shall begin right away.”
Then the cultist opened the book to the correct page and began studying.
Ala’khan began drumming his fingers on the skull again. He looked around the room and gave a relaxed sigh.
“But you know,” the demon said in a much more relaxed tone than before. “I think if we had some of those top-quality cursed sacrificial knives, it’d be a lot better.”
The cultist nodded as he read. “I agree. It would be very nice.”
Ala’khan drummed his fingers again. The cultist turned a page.
“But they’re really rare, you know,” the demon continued. “You need to find something cursed by a very powerful cultist, and those guys never stay under the radar for long before they’re found and killed. Sometimes a cursed sacrificial knife is the last thing they ever make. Sort of like a swan song, really.”
Another nod from the cultist. “Yes, they certainly sound very rare. I haven’t heard of one ’til now.”
Ala’khan tapped his index fingers together. One of the cultists in the room coughed.
“You know,” Ala’khan said, “if you managed to get me some of those, I will most certainly be really pleased.”
“You’re not saying this because Christmas is around the corner, are you?”
“Oh, no, no! Not at all, just an observation.”
The cultist turned the page and continued reading.
“You know,” the demon mused. “If we had a Christmas tree up somewhere in here, it’d contrast the dull greys. Especially with baubles.”
The cultist sighed. “I knew it.”
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting into the Christmas spirit.”
“Christmas is a Christian tradition. It’s not really suiting for people like us.”
“But you don’t have to be good to enjoy gifts, right? I mean, right? So why don’t we get a tree down here and celebrate some good times?”
“We don’t have any room for a tree. We’re already filled up the room when we acquired the portal to the Nether Realms, the sacrificial table, the altar to The Foul Ones That Skulk, and the slaves chained to the wall.”
“Oh, let the slaves free. It’s Christmas after all! That should give us room for a nice big tree, and some presents under it, and–ooh! Do you think we could fit a table and have a Christmas feast, too?”
“I would like to remind you that you are Ala’khan, the Bloodletter and the Destroyer of Minds. Evil demonic overlords such as yourself don’t really fit in a santa suit.”
“Oh, come off it. I don’t want anything big. It’s not like I’m trying to get you guys to do a nativity play. Just a little bit of cheer and thanksgiving over this holiday period, that’s all. And some reindeer. And maybe some Christmas lights, too. Oh, and we can turn the altar into a grotto, and we can have–”
“I’m sorry?” came a female voice beside Ala’khan.
Ala’khan almost jumped out of his demonic skin. A female figure surrounded in an impenetrable pitch-black aura and piercing white eyes was standing beside his throne.”Oh, y-you arrived, Lady Alrein. I didn’t hear you.”
“Perhaps not, but I certainly heard you talking about performing some particularly un-evil and wholesome activities without proper consent of the higher ups.”
Ala’khan began wringing his hands together. “Sorry.”
“I warn you that if I catch you doing this again, I’ll have no other choice but to report you to our overlords and have you appropriately punished. Do not have these thoughts again.”
“Yes, sorry, sorry.”
Ala’khan sheepishly looked to the floor as Lady Alrein simply watched him, arms folded. After a small silence, Ala’khan spoke with a small voice; “But you have to admit, I think he’d look great as a Santa Claus,” referring to the cultist. “Just put a beard on him.”
Lady Alrein cast a steely gaze over the cultist, as if personally judging his abilities. After a slightly tense silence, she said “you know, if you change their robes to brown and give them all reindeer antler headbands and red noses, you might be on to something.”
The cultist sighed. This year’s Christmas was going to be, unfortunately, a merry one.