Balae lit the tip of the incense from the thick candle at the heart of her summoning circle and placed it precisely in the bowl of offerings. The incense joined five glistening rubies and the body of the largest illreth spider she could locate. Standing outside the twisting rings of white and red runes surrounding the bowl, she began the invocation. As she intoned, the smell of brimstone and boneflowers swirled up along with the temperature. The bowl of offerings ignited in a roaring blaze. Balae didn’t falter, though sweat was starting to run down her back and neck. Finally, she spoke the name and the center of the circle vanished in a blaze of fire and clouds of sweet smelling smoke. When the air cleared, she let out a long quiet breath.
Sitting on a throne of ossified boneflowers, the demon queen set her coldly furious gaze on the diminutive dark elf in front of her. Balae knelt and then slowly sank back to sit on her feet, gaze not leaving the demon queen’s own. After a moment, the demon queen tilted her head. “Well, this is unusual. Hubris is usually a fault of your people.”
“It is, but I intend to spend mine on a better bargain.” Balae twisted her hands a few times and triggered the waiting spell in the runes. A small table, set with fine wine, and rare delicacies from the sunless lands appeared at the demon queen’s right hand.
“I admit myself intrigued.” The demon queen raised a bit of smoked fish to her lips and savored the aroma before popping it in her mouth. “More by what I don’t see than I do.”
“I could hardly offer to be at your service if I tried to bind you-” Balae swallowed her words as the demon queen laughed. And laughed, the sound like bones and bells all rolled together. She leaned forward, “I take no second seat to that eight legged frill-”
“I would not dare,” Balae said quietly.
The demon queen sat back and considered the calm, unfazed way the drow in front of her was sitting. The refreshments at the table and finally, the utter and complete lack of spiders in the room. “Then what, exactly, are you daring?”
Balae continued to exude outward calm. “Casting off the spider queen. Everyone here fights for her favor. She splits her attention between them and no one makes any gains. Her whims are unpredictable. This entire structure is nothing but one of her dreams that can fall apart at any moment and to falter means death… or worse.” She looked up and met the demon queen’s gaze. “I am looking for a less fickle patron. I want power. You are a far surer bet than the spider.”
“You betray her so easily?”
“She is made of betrayal. Your kind are known for keeping their bargains. Hers are not.” Balae smiled. “I highly doubt I can outthink one who has been bargaining since time immemorial.”
The compliment had the intended effect and the demon queen knew it. “What do you want.”
“Power, commensurate with my service to you. The greater I achieve, the more power I have, the more power I have the more power you offer.” She was leaning forward herself, hands on her knees as she named what she so dearly wanted.
“Power for power,” the demon queen said after a beat. “ I will agree to the request as long as I also have the freedom to walk in the material plane. I have missed some of its finer pleasures.”
Balae bowed her head. “I am not intending to leave the city of spiders, I am concerned that your presence would reveal our bargain and at this time I am not able to stand against the combined might of the entire city. The spider queen would say jump and my service to you would be severely shortened.”
“Then give me your mortal experiences. I think you should quite entertain me, little drow.” She held out her hand and a tattered grey book appeared in her hand, unfurling like a new leaf. The book floated over to Balae and opened, revealing a contract on the inside of the cover. It was written in the tongue of fiends and seemed to shift as she looked at it. Balae read it carefully. Then, taking a small obsidian knife, she cut her palm and paused. “And what would you like to name your house, my queen?”
The demon queen chuckled. “Call yourself Kazaeth, the spider will be flattered and I will enjoy the joke.”
“As it please you.” And Balae, new matron of house Kazaeth signed the contract in her blood. It glowed for a moment then faded into shadowy runes hidden in the design of the cover.
“Do keep the book. You’ll find it useful.” The demon queen finished her wine. “I’ll be in touch, don’t disappoint me.” And then she and her throne disappeared leaving only the empty offering bowl behind.
Balae clutched the book to her chest and leaned over to lay down on her side, laughing silently. She took several deep breaths to get herself back under control. For her very first fiendish summoning, she thought, it went rather well.
Well, I was challenged to steal a first experience by Bek. I did so. I am also borrowing bits of lore from various roleplaying games for setting for the fun of it.