The small demon squealed miserably. Nabu-sin smiled as he cracked the ox-whip.
It was a three-tentacled implement with an ivory handle wrapped in rawhide. The thin thongs were made not of the usual bull leather, but of manta ray tails. Its poppers were of iron, blessed by a friendly priest-mage back in the main temple of the city of Shuruppak. The farmer’s tool was heavily enchanted, being the subject of several esoteric rituals making it painful beyond physical levels for demons and other beings of the dark.
He looked at the cringing demon. Its skin was riddled with gashes. Sickly green pus was flowing from the wounds. All it could do was cringe, scream, and shout. The capacity to cry was beyond its unholy being. It did beg for mercy at the beginning and offered him his heart’s desire. But Nabu-sin knew the tricks of demons so he just sneered at it, punctuating his denial by several lashes of the whip. Right now the fiend was already backed into a corner, escape rendered impossible by the magic seals Nabu-sin had strategically posted around the room. The man himself was protected by several potent artifacts only a major figure from the Sumerian nether hells could deign to overcome.
“Who is your lord, demon? What is your tribe?” he asked, cracking the whip for emphasis.
“None, mortal,” came the reply, tinged with fear and pain.
The man smiled, a cruel one. He let the whip lash the demon again. At its touch, the foul being screamed. The sound echoed through the shaking wooden ceiling of the room.
Nabu-sin had been engaged to clean the house of its infernal inhabitant, the result of a beautiful female statue of unknown provenance bought by the wife of the owner of the house. An itinerant vendor, the woman said. A vendor of stolen grave goods and artifacts from looted abandoned temples, Nabu-sin thought but didn’t give voice to his suspicion when he met the couple. When the haunting started, the local priest was called for and promptly left in a huff when the man recognized the tell-tale signs of a demon.
There were a lot of such infestations in the Dual Monarchy of Sumer and Akkad. Specialized orders of the major temples usually took care of them. But the number of such priestly demon hunters were relatively few compared to the task facing them. In small towns such as this one, private hunters find their calling and their considerable fees. Not that Nabu-sin particularly cared about the money. True, his charges were high. The services of a private demon hunter of the first tier commanded such fees. But he levied them to avoid complications with the guild and his fellow hunters. He would have happily done it for free. Nabu-sin was after more than gold. He was searching for a particular tribe of demons.
A fresh laceration marked the badly wounded back of the demon. A disgusting suppuration started to flow from the new gash and it was a long deep one. Any healing ability of the creature was suppressed by the conjurations which blessed the whip.
“You know, foul creature? We could do this all day,” said Nabu-sin.
The demon looked back at him. Hate and fury etched on its fanged and horned face. Its shimmering skin of dark purple and black started to glow. The dark red color which filled its two lidless excuses for eyes flashed and filled the room with an angry crimson hue.
Of many tribes are we,
Of vile hate and fury
Do we treat our own;
Of such a tribe art thou,
And no satisfaction nor
Knowledge dear shall
You have from me!
With that shouted declaration, marked with hate and anger, the fiend stabbed his own head with both clawed hands, the talons entering the soft part of his head above his throat and under the jaws. A thick geyser of viscous green liquid sprayed around the evil spirit. The demon then crumpled to the floor.
Stupid demon escaped me. I didn’t expect that though, Nabu-sin reflected. Ah well, I’ve got to rid of the body. His cursed spirit will have to wait thousands of years to regain a solid form.
He walked to the body and poured a clear liquid from a small vial over it. The demonic form sizzled and slowly disappeared. Job done, he thought.
He did put me in a tribe of my own, Nabu-sin reflected as he remembered the words of the demon. I should be honored, the amusing thought entered his mind. Then he laughed.