Iranon, Pennsylvania, 1923

“He’s so. . . handsome.”

“And he’s rich. His father is the owner of how many mills? Seven?”

“Yes, seven.”

It was a typical Saturday afternoon. Emily and her sister Anna were doing the dishes and discussing boys. Anna had her eye on James Louis Armond—the heir to the Frakes & Kingston Law firm—and Emily had her eye on Galen Amano. His father owned seven mills.

Neither one of them had any chance. Both were poor peasant girls. They had only seen these men from afar, gathering what they knew from gossip—not hard to acquire, considering they went to the same Church. True, both girls were beautiful, but beauty in those days meant nothing without family connections. And Emily and Anna’s family—the Scofield clan—were the poorest of the poor. Their father was in prison and their mother had remarried their uncle. Together they all lived in a cramped three-story house on the end of Briar’s Lane, gifted to them by their great aunt, Matilda. Both of the sisters appeared destined for spinsterdom or marrying low-caste men—in either case, a life of drudgery awaited them, just like all in their family.

But, for now, they had their dreams.

“What would you do with all that money?” Anna asked.

“Buy a larger wardrobe. Some horses. Maybe a ranch.”

“These dishes never end.”

“No, they never do.”

“What would you do with the money?”

“I would hope to travel.”

Though separated by a year, Emily and Anna had little in common in terms of personality. Emily, 23, was shy, reclusive and melancholy. Anna, 24, was gregarious, adventurous, active and almost always cheery. Physically, they were also quite different: Emily was small, frail, thin and pale, with long black hair and big dark eyes. Anna was taller, plumper and blonde like her father. Despite this, they got along well. They had no one else—most in the town shunned them for their poverty and the sinful ways of their family line.

After the dishes were done, Anna went to the market and Emily retired to her room to read a book. While Anna enjoyed being out and about, Emily’s preferred to read. Books gave her something nothing else did—books and the occasional game of Chess with her sister. Luckily, Iranon had a fine library, and when Emily had her fill of books there, she could always find more obscure works at the University.

On that fateful August evening, Emily had five books at the ready:

Godsea: Legend of the Gilded Ausprey

Confessions of St. Augustine

Tales of a Time and Place

The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts

The Maiden, Lyra

She didn’t expect anything grand from them. She had once tried to read the Confessions of St. Augustine but found it too terribly boring. Perhaps I’ll use it as a sleep aid, she laughed to herself. The others merely had interesting titles. In any case, her schedule was filled till supper. And after supper, she planned to read more. To read herself to sleep was one of her favorite activities, though she needed to be careful not leave the candle burning.

She looked over the four volumes, not knowing on which to start. She knew it wouldn’t be The Confessions. Closing her eyes, she picked one at random—Tales of a Time and Place. She then plopped into her chair and began reading.

An hour later, there was a knock at the door.

“Emily? Emily are you in there?”

It was her mother.

“Yes, mother. I’m here.”

Emily got from out of her chair and unlocked the door.

“Emily,” her mother said, exasperated, “I am making roast tonight and I can’t find the the large black bowl. Where is it?”

Emily thought a moment. “I don’t remember us washing that. When was the last time you used it?”

“Oh, you’re right. I left it at Martha’s house on Wednesday. I should have known.”

Emily rolled her eyes.

Her mother left.

Emily returned to her book. The distraction had made her lose her place and, in any case, Tales of a Time and Place was proving to be quite boring. She wanted something a little more exciting.

She picked up The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts—a book she had read many times before, but always enjoyed reading again. Magic was a topic that intrigued her since she was young, and though she knew it was forbidden by the Church, she still read the occasional book on the subject. She figured it was harmless, and she only went to Church for her mother’s sake, anyway.

As she opened the book, she noticed a slip of paper tucked away in its middle. It was folded like a bookmark—and the library never removed bookmarks, for some odd reason—and the paper looked quite old. It was yellowing, brittle and creased in odd ways.

“Curious,” Emily said. She held the paper up to the window. There was writing on it. It looked to be two pages, actually. Not wanting to tear it, Emily walked over to her desk and spread it out flat. It was English writing—excellent penmanship. The second page also had a strange seal—a seal which looked quite similar to what she had seen before in books of magic, akin to the symbols used to designate demons.

She felt a twinge of fear. Then fascination.

I should make some tea before I read it, she thought. Savor the moment.

She left her room, went downstairs and put on a pot of tea. Her mind was already racing with possibility—someone, or some thing, had taken the time to write a two-page note, composed or transcribe a demonic seal, and leave it in a library book. Perhaps it was intentional —the book was on the same subject, after all. She could barely contain her excitement.

Her mother was also in the kitchen. “You look odd,” she said. “Smiling like that.”

“Sorry,” Emily said.

“I wonder if your sister will remember to get some eggs.”

“I’m sure she will.”

“I need eggs for the biscuits.”


After the tea was done, Emily poured herself a cup and returned to her room. She had work to do.


Before reading the strange paper, Emily looked at the handwriting again. Though excellent, she noticed a few oddities: the s was a little lower than the other letters, and the t would be crossed twice. She wondered where in the country people wrote like that. It certainly wasn’t local.

The text read, “For the summoning of Vresas, demoness of lust, know that her day is the fifteenth mansion of the moon. She must be summoned at the midnight hour, or before dawn, and the Karcist must observe chastity for three days prior. On virgin parchment, draw her sigil by the light of two candles, and speak her enn in a low voice. Her enn is thus:

mira Vresas arncalavi xen xen rencarna

“This should be said with a prayerful heart. Know that she comes when she wishes and may not appear at the time of summoning. She will grant whatever the Karcist wishes in matters of lust, but only by pact.

“Do not regard her many forms with fear. They are temporary.”

At the end, there was a signature, though Emily could not make out the letters.

From her studies prior, Emily knew that Karcist was an ancient word for sorcerer, but she could not recall what an enn was. From the text, it appeared to be a prayer. She had read similar words before in The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts—words which were said as part of the litany to an angel, demon or spirit.

The ritual was simple. Elegant, even. Emily was used to more elaborate instructions—special incenses and robes, swords consecrated with abstract designs and symbols, seals which were required to be engraved in metal. This ritual only required candles, a short prayer or enn, paper and pen.

“Curious,” Emily said. She often considered that the common instructions given in grimoires might be needless, assuming they truly worked. Simple instructions such as these could be applied to any angel or demon, provided its seal, name and office were known.

She sipped her tea and felt a warm swell in her heart. The seal was so elegant, so unalike the crude seals given in grimoires like The Lesser Key of SolomonThe Sworn Book of Honorius and The Grimorium Verum.

“Vresas,” she intoned. The name, too, was beautiful. Evocative. “demoness of lust”. It was all very fascinating to her.

For a brief moment, she thought of Galen Ameno. Tall, brown-haired, blue-eyed. Strappingly handsome. Rich. She wondered what Vresas, demoness of lust, would do if she summoned her and asked her for Galen’s affections.

Then she recalled the words only by pact. She knew what “pact” meant—other grimoires explained. But each pact was potentially different. Vresas would want something—but what?

“Silliness,” Emily whispered. She took another sip of tea and went to her next book: Godsea: Legend of the Gilded Ausprey. A fantasy novel, over 1,000 pages long. A nice title. A bit gaudy, but nice.

She began reading

“What would you be willing to part with, if it meant the man of your dreams?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

Though Emily was hesitant to admit it—even to herself—the two pages of strange magic were starting to obsess her. It wasn’t just the prospect of them coming true. The instructions felt true. They felt like real magic. And though Emily doubted the veracity of magic, she was curious. She wanted to know. Perhaps the spell contained in that small, yellowing paper could show her.

“Just curious,” Emily said.

Church was over. Emily and Anna were at home, playing their usual game of Three-Handed Escra. Anna was losing.

“I wouldn’t want to part with my eyes. Or my health.” Anna said, eyeing her cards. “I would part with this three, though.”

She slapped down the three.

Emily grinned, slapping down a nine.

“What about you?” Anna asked.

“I don’t know. I think, yes, I wouldn’t part with my eyes or my health. But for Galen Amano—well. . . it is a hard question.”

“Yes,” Anna replied, placing a five by the nine. “I might be willing to give up a lot.”

Emily set down another nine.

“Damn!” Anna said. “You’ve got me.”

“As usual.”

“I think that’s all I’m playing.” Anna got up from the table. “I’ve got some knitting to do, anyway. I should get to it.”

“Right,” Emily said. “By the way, I forgot to ask you—are lunar calendars hard to find?”

“Lunar calendars? What do you need that for?”

“Just curious.”

“I don’t even know what they are. I’d say check the library.”

“Right. Maybe a book on astrology.”


Emily felt almost certain that she would try the spell. She would need to prepare, though. Not knowing what lunar day it was, she realized it might take as long as a month before she could. The idea of waiting bothered her—she wanted to try it as soon as possible.

“Actually,” Anna said, “I may have a book that will tell. Wait here.”

“Alright.” Anna went up to her room and came back with a small volume, bound in leather.

“Church Holidays. Some are based on the moon. Maybe in the Appendix it will explain how it works. Why do you want to know, again?”

“Just curious.”

“Sure. Well, put the book on my bed when you’re done. I’m leaving.”

Anna left.

Emily opened the book.

It didn’t take long for Emily to find what she needed to know. Though the full calendar wasn’t given, it told her that the 15th day simply meant the full moon.

The instructions could have easily said so Emily thought. She doubted its efficacy even more. Still, she would try.

She went to her calendar and saw that the full moon would arrive in six days. Being unmarried, she had no trouble at all with keeping chastity. Just to be sure, she decided to refrain from masturbating, also. Six days would be fine—she had gone much longer in the past.

Alright then, she thought to herself, I’ll mark the calendar. Then when the day comes, I’ll do it. I’ll make sure.

She didn’t know how to feel about what she soon would be doing. Part of her thought it was silly. Another part thought it was at least worth a try. And yet another part felt terribly guilty—using magic to get a lover. How would the world work if everyone did so?

Still, part of her didn’t care at all.

The day for the ritual arrived.

Emily had studiously observed chastity, banishing even slight sexual thoughts. She also kept her interactions to a minimum, knowing that this was recommended in other texts. She was excited, though still didn’t entirely believe it would work. And, if it did, she had no idea what she would actually do. She wanted Galen Amano, of course—his undying affection, his sweet marriage proposal on bended knee, a ring, a wedding, a lifetime of happiness, seven or eight children, etc.—but she also knew that pacts with demons were often difficult affairs. A demon wouldn’t just offer its services for nothing—it would want payment. And while the traditional lore often depicted the demon as requesting a soul, or some form of continual servitude, Emily doubted that would be the case. But if it was, would she accept?

Galen was handsome.

And rich.

And his family was even richer.

It would be a difficult decision.

Emily had a sense of foreboding all that day. She awoke feeling uneasy, and the feeling only got more pronounced as the day progressed. Her mother noticed that she was unusually quiet.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Are you coming down with a fever?”

“No,” Emily said.

“Alright. Well, if you are, tell me. I’ll make soup.”

“Thank you.”

After that brief encounter, Emily spent most of the day in her room, reading. She chose light topics—fairy tales, mostly, and a book on deciduous shrubs. She didn’t want to add to her anxiety. She didn’t bother eating supper with the family, either, preferring to eat alone. There were only twelve times a year she could perform the ritual—she didn’t want to make a mistake.

Soon, night fell.

She looked out her window. The moon was full, the sky cloudless. The neighborhood looked particularly haunting—pale blue moonlight covering every exposed surfaces, dramatic black shadows beneath.

She waited until midnight. Then, with bated breath, she began the ritual.

As instructed, she lit two candles and placed them at opposite sides of a white, unused sheet of paper. Looking at the seal given in the original text, she then carefully re-drew it, making sure it was as close as possible to the original. Once finished, she closed her eyes and repeated the enn from memory.

“mira Vresas arncalavi xen xen rencarna . . .

“mira Vresas arncalavi xen xen rencarna . . .”

She gazed intently at the seal, waiting for an effect to occur. The text had said, “Do not regard her many forms with fear. They are temporary.” This implied that Vresas would show herself in some way. From other grimoires, Emily knew this was the expected next step—spectral visions. Haunting images. Ghostly apparitions.

She waited.

She felt nothing.

Staring at the seal once more, she again intoned the enn.


Well, she thought, as I suspected. It’s just silliness.

Sighing, she put away the paper, snuffed the candles and got into bed. She didn’t know whether to feel disappointed or relieved—after all, she may have actually bartered her soul for Galen Amano’s love, and what would one do without a soul. It was also comforting to be in a world where magic possibly didn’t even exist—it meant no demons, no specters, no wraiths, no shades, no imps, goblins or Wendigos. Not a bad world to be in, all things considered.

Her eyes soon grew heavy and she fell asleep. Tomorrow was another day.

A week passed.

Emily had almost forgotten the ritual entirely. It didn’t work, in her estimation, and she was embarrassed she even tried. Thankfully, no one saw it.

Or so she thought.

Life went on as normal, lulling her into a false sense of security. No visions, no paranormal phenomena—not the slightest hint that something strange was on the horizon. She resigned herself to the idea that Galen was out of reach. Pining for him and fantasizing was fun, but nothing would come of it. She would probably marry a dullard or drunkard, as was common to her caste. Life would go on in its normal, boring way. She’d forget the silliness of magic and move on like she always did.

Part of her, however, was greatly disappointed. She also wanted to believe in magic. It was a source of great conflict—the desire for familiarity and the hunger for the unexpected. Living in a world full of knowns was boring—the unknown, always, was far sexier. Still, the known was rarely frightening. It rarely caused problems. It was comfortable. And why did Emily seek Galen Amano, if not for a life of splendid comfort?

Then one evening she awoke to a hand—warm and smooth—caressing her face.

She didn’t think much of it at first. It could’ve been a dream, or her mother or sister. It was still dark and she was terribly tired. She brushed the hand away and turned over, sinking her head deeper into the pillow.

“Wake up, Emily” she heard a voice say, melodiously. “Wake up, my dear.”

She had never heard the voice before.


Emily jolted up, panic-stricken, fear spreading through her body like a wildfire.

“Who’s there?” she gasped.

She immediately turned to the window. There, standing in the moonlight, was a figure. A woman.

Emily’s heart pounded in her chest. Her entire body felt hot. She began to sweat.

“W-who? Anna?”

“Not Anna,” the figure said. “I think you know who I am.”

Emily did. She knew exactly who it was—and she knew all the implications of what she had done. She felt like she might pass out from the shock.

The demoness had arrived.

Paralyzed in fright, breathing heavily, her body wracked with tension, Emily watched as the demoness slowly drew closer to her, inch by elegant inch. Despite her fear, she admired how feminine and perfect the demoness’s body looked—as if it were hewn from some universal template of ideal womanhood. It radiated pure sex. Emily gulped.

“Emily,” the voice said, “I’ve come.”

Emily said nothing, unable to speak. A subtle sense of electricity filled the room and a scent of dark and heavy spices permeated the air—the fragrance of lust. Her sex ached, despite her fear. Her wrists trembled as she clutched the sheets tight.

“Perhaps you need a little more light,” the demoness said. She sauntered over to Emily’s table and lit two candles, then sat in the chair. The candle’s amber light filled the room, revealing more of the demoness’s form. Emily was enthralled: her eyes were piercing, intelligent and dark. Her lips were full and luscious—the color of blood. Her face exuded as much wanton sexuality as her body—her soft, blemishless skin was as pale as the moon. She wore only a skimpy black dress, covering only her midsection and leaving her long, sultry legs and eminently kissable shoulders and neck exposed. She looked like a Goddess.

“Better?” she asked.

Emily nodded. She felt herself growing calmer, more collected. She didn’t know if it was just the demoness’s voice and appearance or if she was using some form of magic on her. Either way, Emily didn’t really care—she was glad to not feel so panicked.

“H-hi,” she whispered.

“Hello,” the demoness said with a grin. “Now, let’s talk.”

“M-my parents. . . won’t they hear us?”

“No,” the demoness said, “they’re in a trance. Out cold. Your sister, too.”


“Galen Amano. You want him, yes?”

Emily nodded.

The demoness grinned. “Good. You’re a lustful girl. I can tell. I’ve seen the fantasies you have about him—his sweaty, lean body on top of yours in a big, gaudy bed. Pumping away at you, deep in your sex, straining away with his hard cock. You think about it very often—more often than you even consciously admit to yourself. You’ve fixated on him. And, until you met me, it was a terrible move on your part. You’d never get him in a million years.”