I called a hoary demon from an antique hell, hugging to its chest a book.
I asked him for a story to tell and he smiled, shy and wicked.
"A wizard called me up by name,"
"A child granted authority over their betters."
"First he asked for power, but I refused him."
"Then he asked for a service, but I would not bow to those greater by far."
"And last, for knowledge. This I would grant, at a price."
"So, we made our bargain."
"My term was that such as I told him must be written down,"
"In a book imperishable."
"He sensed a trick, but agreed."
The demon laughed.
"I filled him with unclean lore,"
"Night after night I visited, and he would sit at the desk and write,"
"And his days and dreams were wracked by what I told and showed him."
"By the arts he practiced and studied."
"By putting them all into words, knowing they would corrupt others."
"His hand scribbled against his will upon the parchment,"
"And all the warnings he interjected, the formulae for exorcism and defense,"
"Were but encouragements along the way for eager readers."
"After forty nights, body and mind were sullied,"
"And his soul, not long after."
"For he could not burn the book, nor drown it fathoms deep."
"So he hid it well, and took his own life."
"Only to awake to new and grim existence."
"Bound to his book, and all copies made."
"An empty shell, sustained by whispered secrets."
"Unable to rest."
The demon caressed the book in its arms.
"Because the book was found,"
"By would-be wizards,"
"And treasured by the blackest cults,"
"His name echoes still in their rites,"
"Studious occultists dedicate their works to him,"
"And all, all he wishes is that they would forget."
"So that he can cease to be."
"But that will be a long time yet."
The demon's laugh did not haunt me half so much, as the weight of the book when it pressed it into my waiting hands.
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