He had gone over the texts for what seemed like the hundredth time. What he wanted to do was dangerous, and making a single mistake would likely cost him dearly. He had checked that the summoning circle was drawn correctly, that the items to be sacrificed were exactly what the text demanded them to be. Everything was exactly as it was supposed to be.
He was, after all, going to summon a succubus and make her do his bidding.
Candles were lit, the words were spoken, and the offerings made in the way that the text said they should be. He expected to see what the text described, a creature of evil, looking evil, and, naturally, being evil.
The thing was, what he got was a raven haired, red horned and tailed Queen of the Succubi, who looked … nice. She stood there in the middle of the circle and looked around. He wasn’t sure what her expression was, exactly. It seemed to be a smile; amused perhaps?
She put her hands into the pockets of her long red jacket, the hem swishing about her black pants and ankle boots. She looked directly at him with her so-green eyes and asked—very calmly, actually: “So, just what is it that you want?”
He started to read from the text, so that he might bind her to him, when she held up a hand: “Correct me if I am wrong, but you are trying to summon a succubus, am I correct?”
He nodded, but continued to read. She shifted her stance and waited for him to finish and then once the last word was spoken commented: “So, at this point, I assume, you believe that you have control of me and I should obey you.”
He closed the book: “Yes. You are bound to me, succubus. You cannot escape the circle.”
She sighed, rubbed a finger against the bridge of her nose and then … simply walked out of the summoning circle, crossing the room to where he now cowered in fear. He begged for his soul and his life and prostrated himself before her. When nothing happened, he looked up, and found that she was standing there, arms crossed over her chest, tapping a finger, idly.
“Are we quite done? For if you are, then perhaps we can get to the reason why you would do such a stupid thing as you have just tried to do.”
“You … you can’t do that!”
“Well, actually, it seems that I just did. Oh, pardon me a moment, please.”
She took the book away from him, and two others. She examined the covers and rolled her eyes: “Honestly! Mages should never write spell books when they are drunk. Well intentioned, all of them, but one mug of mead too much and they mix up their terms.” A flick of the hand that held the books, and they vanished into thin air: “At least you are not the one that will be paying the late fees on those.”
He was obviously confused, and couldn’t help but ask: “Who are you?”
She offered her hand to help him stand up once more: “To be formal, my name is Tera, Queen of the Succubi, Empress of the Realm, Protector of all Joyful Passions.”
He blanched at her reply, but took the offered hand as stood up in front of her. His next question was, to be truthful, rather silly: “Why do you look like … that?”
She pinched her nose again: “Because this is what I look like and the mages that wrote those books probably knew that if they drew me looking like this, no one would take them seriously. So they embellished things. After all, latex and leather wasn’t really a thing in their time. And as for the hooves, high heels weren’t a thing back then, either.”
She waved a hand idly as if to dismiss the mages of the past and then asked: “So, I know your name is Ben, I know that you used the summoning, which really I didn’t have to answer, but I did. So, what was it that you wanted from me, anyway?”
He blinked at the directness of her words: “I’m confused.”
“Well, that’s obvious. Things didn’t work out the way you planned, and by the way, why don’t you clean up this mess. There’s no point to any of it now that I’m here and, besides that, none of it will work.”
If wasn’t that she used some kind of mind control on him, or forced him to do so, but rather he saw her point and started cleaning up things, finding it comfortingly normal as he did so.
She had turned away from him and waved her hand at the salt circle, making it blow away, as she asked: “So, who is she?”
He almost dropped the glass vial he had picked up the moment before: “Who?”
She sighed, but didn’t pinch her nose this time: “Based on experience, the main reason that someone calls is that they have relationship problems, do not know what to do, and come to the conclusion that they might take out their frustrations by calling and controlling one of us.”
“Wasn’t … I mean … I couldn’t …”
She smiled, and this time he was very sure that her smile was a bemused one: “I know. But you were going to ask for something. So, care to share?”
He looked at the ceiling and sighed: “It’s complicated.”
She took the glass vial from his hands and put it into one of her pockets: “Best that I keep that. You wouldn’t want to drop it.”
He was still trying to put into words what he wanted when she bluntly said: “Ask her.”
“Not that easy.”
“Of course it is. You walk up to her door, knock on it, and ask her.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Sure you can. It’s simple enough.”
He looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck and the blush of embarrassment was very plain to see.
“Okay. Ask me.”
“Sure, why not? I’m here, so … ask.”
“This is stupid. Look, thanks for coming here, but this is my problem, and I’ll take care of things on my own.”
She smiled: “No, actually this isn’t just your problem. So, we are going to deal with it.”
“What are you talking about?”
She walked up to him and, as she did, he noticed a hint of cherries in the air: “I’m talking about you … and her.”
He actually started to become worried, but then he noticed the gleam in her green eyes and couldn’t look away: “What … why …”
She drew close to him, her voice changing slightly, seeping into his thoughts: “You weren’t the first one to find those books. She found them, too.”
He should have been worried, but that emotion didn’t make it to his conscious thoughts as she spoke: “You weren’t the first to try this. She was. I had the longest, most intimate conversation with her.”
There was the sound of a door opening and then closing close by, but he couldn’t look away, didn’t want to as she continued: “There are such things as “Eternals,” souls meant for each other. But the universe sometimes makes it hard for them to meet, or to know.”
There was a glimpse of someone entering the room, but, again, he couldn’t summon up the worry or concern over it.
“That’s where my kind comes in. She asked an important question. I agreed to find out.”
He caught a glimpse of purple hair and felt comforted by it and at the same time frightened—the first two emotions that managed to surface past Tera’s words and power over him.
Tera moved back slightly and it was clear that Marie had arrived while Tera was talking to him. She was standing next to Tera, rubbing her right arm and looking worried: “Is he … ?”
Tera smiled as she continued to look at him: “You’ve always known the answer. He’s known it, as well. You both just couldn’t come out and ask. So, ask.”
Marie hesitated and, as she did, Tera pulled her power away from Ben. They both looked at each other and asked: “Will you …”
Tera laughed softly, her tail swisching behind her in amusement: “Humans. The most simple of words to say you just can’t manage without a swift kick in the rear.”
She pointed at Marie: “You love him?” Then at Ben: “You love her?”
The two nodded in embarrassment, not able to put to words what they really wanted to say.
“And for all of this, you needed to call me to push the two of you together?”
Neither of them could look directly at Tera for the embarrassment they both felt. Tera shook her head and walked towards the apartment door, pausing as she took hold of the door handle to leave.
“The pent up sexual frustration between the two of you is enough to attract lightning. I would suggest that you both accept that you are in love with each other, have been for years, and then make the rest of your lives wonderful.”
She opened the door and called out over her shoulder: “Enjoy the gift for all it’s worth.”
They both looked at Tera as she walked through the door and closed it behind her.
And the gift? Well, for that you would have to ask them. But the only answer you’d ever get would be a shared look and smile from the pair and a silent thanks to Tera for what she did for them both.
Asking, after all, was what it was all about.