“This is horrible. I’ve never encountered this situation before. If a demon is summoned, they are normally given the signifier of their deal and the summoner is almost always immediately murdered.”

But this? This is new. The demon was summoned, but the deal was not completed. A second summoning would have had to happen almost instantaneously with the first to interrupt the process.

“The second demon has no real allegiance with the first, but I don’t see why he would impede his progress either…” I mumble.

The boy knelt down beside the carved-out floor.

“So, these things… they’re sending messages to each other?”

Well, it appears he is gaining a better understanding of the situation.

“Yes. Whether on accident or intentional, two demons were summoned and given dominion over this place. Yet, neither have full control. This is both good and bad in different ways.”

“Ah, so that’s what ya were trying to say.”

“Ahem, yes. It is.”

Power seeps out of my fingertips, as I draw images of light in the air. I design a false demonic altar and a little person performing a summoning ritual for my new companion.

“See, when a demon is summoned, the place to which it is brought forth belongs to the demon, acting as an anchor to keep him on this plane. Even then, he is severely limited in his abilities, normally requiring an additional sacrifice to gain his full power.”

“So one of our baddies needs this girl to start causing all manner of mess, right?”

“Precisely. But, because of whatever way the house and the things and people within were separated among the two demons, one didn’t get the chance to acquire his sacrifice.”

Con stood up, looking around the room. He caught the eye of one of the workers and became embarrassed. I don’t think he will ever get used to being considered a guest here.

“Alright. So what about the other demon? What’s his sacrifice?”

“I’m not sure. I am mostly sure he does not have it, only because he hasn’t massacred the entire occupancy of the estate.”

“Right. So what kinds of things can be considered sacrifice.”

“People. Objects. Ideas. Memories. Events. Something that means everything to someone. Someone of importance in relation to the area…”

Con gets a strange look on his face as I speak.

He walks away and starts feeling around behind one of the tables in the hall. He pulls his hand out and is holding one of the dead maggot-looking creatures. Seems like the servants missed one.

“This thing… it’s what made the blood in this room, right?”

“Yes. Low class demons barely considered a threat. Meant to inspire fear more than anything.”

“But they are demons, ain’t they?”

“Well, yes, but only in a certain sense.”

“So someone summoned them.”

He’s going somewhere with this.

“Yes. I believe it was one of the higher-class demons plaguing this house.”

“So they brought little things that make blood and left a message for their buddy and just randomly picked this place? I thought you said they each had control only over parts of the house.”

“…I did, but what…”

“So how’s the other demon supposed to know what was said when they can’t step foot in here?”

I had never even considered that.

“…A valid point. What do you think?”

“I don’t think these things were just randomly summoned to scare the staff.”

“They were supposed to help get the message across. Get the message to the other beast.” I figured out where he was going with his questions.

“You killed them. The staff is cleaning them up. Those marks in the floor have that creepy feeling that told me what the words said. And I can say, the rotting carcass of these gross creepy crawlies has the same feeling.”

This is genius. As the staff move them out of the room, and through another, that other demon can feel the sentiment attached to the creatures thus the message is passed on. So, they aren’t so much warring with each other, as having a standoff, with the residents and hired help caught in a violent crossfire.

“This is good. You might end up being of even more use than I thought.”

“Glad to know you need a tool…”

“That’s not what I meant. You can help me. If you choose to.”

He throws the creature to the side and crosses his arms.

“It’s not like I have a choice. You got my strength all locked up in this stupid ring.”

I say nothing. Yes, I still feel horrible about that, but I need this boy’s help. Despite his demon abilities being sealed within the ring, he has some lingering ability. And I need that to piece together more clues.

If he can sense energy and sentiments from spiritual objects, he might be able to give me more insight into some other events in the house.

Con gives a big sigh before speaking again.

“What do ya need me to do, Branner?”

“Have you ever been in a library?”

“A kid who can’t read in a place filled with books? Yeah, ’cause that makes a lick of sense.”

“Oh, you’ll like this one. I’m sure you’ll find plenty to ‘read.'”