Luckless Lucien
rating: +30+x

Hello, Cathy. The night is come. The lantern is lit. Darkness creeps around us like a shroud infested by maggots. Ghosts and ghouls watch from the corner of your eye! The dead dream of eons past! And as for you… What story would you like to hear tonight, my dear?

How about The Little Piggy Who Saw Too Much? It's a story about lost innocence, about broken oaths and forbidden know— no? Well, then perhaps you'd prefer Tinnie Tommy and the Oozing Flesh-Mound? That one's always been one of your favorites.

No? A tough customer you are! I like that! Well, Cathy, since you've been an exceptionally good girl as of late, I think you deserve to hear my newest piece, fresh out from the pits of Dis. Would you like that?

Very well! Luckless Lucien it is!

Luckless Lucien

Once upon a time there was a wizard called Lucien, who practiced the darkest arts. From sanguine dusk to accursed dawn he drew his sigils with the blood of goats and spoke the black tongue of old Sodom, harnessing the evils that lurked in lower planes to serve his nefarious purposes. He knew the secrets of alchemy and transmuted lead into gold so that he would not want for money, and he turned the tears of virgins into an elixir of life so that he would need no sleep or sustenance. Some claimed that he could recall past lives when he meditated, and that his astral sight could reach beyond all realms known to man.

Indeed, Lucien was an accomplished magician, and his infamy grew as much as his prestige: a thousand enemies tried to bring him down, to have him burned at the stake or to outwit him in arcane duels. All of them failed to even scratch him, and Lucien brought great suffering upon his rivals and their entire bloodlines.

But none of this was enough for Lucien. What knowledge he had gained through the years did not sate his thirst for deeper secrets of sorcery. His enemies were never vanquished, and new ones always popped up from the shadows to defy him. He needed tools with which to forever scar the world in his image, instruments of power that ensured his legacy would stand unopposed and unequaled for all eternity. His would be the work of ages, and thus Lucien sought to commit the ultimate sacrilege in pursuit of his mad desire. Thus he summoned the abomination! Thus he brought doom to all the land! Thus he sold his soul to Sisselax the Devourer!

In his dark, damp dungeon, Lucien lit black candles and bled his right thumb into parchment traced with profane runes not spoken in millennia, symbols so blasphemous that even one such as he could not bear to read them in their entirety. The air around him smelled of decay, of foul things thrashing in the bowels of existence, unclean and waiting to be unleashed. Shadows coalesced and danced all around him, kissing his sickly skin with seductive intent, pushing the magician towards the abyss from where there was no return, for a soul was the price of ultimate victory— and Lucien would now forfeit his own.

With a word of power that tasted of bile and smoke, the magician crossed the threshold of damnation — the mouth of the pit — and screamed out his intent, his invitation. The sound of thunder echoed through the dungeon, the stench of sulfur filling Lucien's nostrils until he gagged and tears dripped down his face. In a puff of burning shadow, in a pyre of icy light, the veil between worlds faltered and fell apart, the great shape of the ungodly aberration piercing through with its many tendrils, its twin mouths screeching horridly as they took their first breath. Sisselax the Devourer had come! It lived! It lumbered! It… it… it was rather small.

Short like a stool, stout like a barrel, the thing that had climbed out from the mouth of Hell stood on a dozen stubby tendrils, its gelatinous greenish-blue flesh trembling as it struggled to balance its own unwieldy form. A pair of fingerless, sucker-covered limbs flapped at either side of its malformed body, grasping at its vicinity. The two massive mouths that dominated its face drooled unabashed as the foul creature turned its featureless head towards the magician and — coughing and heaving — spoke.

"Well, hi there!" the diminutive demon addressed its summoner. "Guess you're… Lucien. Or… Lu-key-en? Sorry, contracts are not too clear on pronounciation."

"What—?" Lucien blurted out, his mind racing to check its psychic wards for any breaches, making sure this was not an illusion or mind-trick.

"Welp! If you are Lucien or just his brother or something, it's a pleasure to meet you all the same!" Sisselax extended two rubbery tentacles towards its summoner, hoping for a handshake.

Lucien's heavy footfalls echoed through the room as he marched over to the hellspawn. His back arched down like a creaking old tree, glaring into Sisselax's eyeless visage. "I have had fae queens take the form of my mothers and mentors, heavenly emissaries show me visions of my past in abstract, but never have I encountered a creature from beyond the Veil of reality that would portray itself in such a… minuscule manner."

"Well, I'm not! I'm just naturally short!"

With a wave of his hand, Lucien beckoned forth the grisly grimoire which held within the summoning ritual he had used to bring the demon into the realm of the living and opened it on the page that displayed the (evidently stylized) illustration for the demon to behold— though he was not quite sure how an eyeless creature could even see anything.

"Is this not a drawing of you?" the magician inquired.

"No way! Wow!" Sisselax chuckled, "Talk about a blast from the past! Man, I still remember the night we did that. We all got off work early, so everyone was hanging out at my buddy Yagoohl's place to party. Though it was just like, drinking, fighting, fucking, shoving our arms under the skin of each other's faces, so it wasn't a crazy party or anything. Just palin' around. Then I think uh… ah gosh I feel bad I can't remember his name. I mean, it has been 1,440 years, but still, he was a really cool guy so I feel kinda embarrassed. Wait was it 1,440 years? I think that month was part of a triple-year, so time moved slower. And I think the Greyhorn War was few decades after that, so—"

"Stop meandering and get to the point." The ebony glow of Lucien's eyes belted down on the dual-mouthed devil like a pair of irascible spotlights. "I am not one to play games, and I suggest you read the room: you are in my service. Act like it."

"R-right, sorry," the demon laughed nervously. "Uh, someone at the party thought'd be funny to make a book detailing everyone there, and then toss it onto ground-world for humans to find."

"Sisselax, 'Despondent Ruler of Meuglaw'?" Lucien said, pointing out passages of the text.

"I wouldn't say I'm the ruler, I'm just on the neighborhood council."

"'Commander of 41 Demonic Legions'?"

"Oh that was a temporary thing. The foreman couldn't come into work that day 'cause his wife sucked all his bones out his ass, so he had to call in sick. I just took over for him while he was gone."

"'The One Who Holds the Crimson Reservoir in its Right and the Profane Lance in its Left'?"

"I think I was just holding a red cup and a pencil at the time."

“Then for what reason are you dubbed The Devourer? The Seven-Day Horror? All those other titles! Surely you must have performed some great act of depravity to earn such infamy!”

“Oh, they just call me The Devourer 'cause I got two mouths haha.”

The dark wizard pinched his nose and let out a sigh, "It matters not. Whether a lord of Hell or a lowly imp, you will uphold your end of the bargain, wretch."

"I'll try my best!" the demon chirped. It did not seem the least bothered by the tone with which it was being addressed.

"You better! My soul was the price for your advent, so I will now extract from you the things I most desire in life!"

"Ah yes, about that… I think I should tell you—"

"We will begin at once! The legacy I have envisioned shall overshadow even the achievements of the sages of old!"

"But it's really important! See, you have a wee—"

"Silence!" Lucien bellowed as he snapped the grimoire closed. "I did not summon you to indulge in your ceaseless chattering— unless it is to serve my purposes. Know that I have brought you forth from the bowels of Hell to accomplish a task of utmost importance! You will provide for me all the eldritch knowledge that only your species possesses. I desire to know everything, every last secret of magic demonkind holds!"

"Sure! You're the boss!" Sisselax smiled widely with both its toothy maws. "I got just the stuff you're looking for!"

Lucien should have seen it coming: in terms of eldritch knowledge, the demon knew very little. The secrets it did hold were less than useless: the name of the first dairy farmer's closest acquaintance; the thoughts of a fly moments before being swatted; how to intensify your psychic abilities to move a five-hundred ton weight for one inch before promptly dying. When asked about matters relating to the sciences, Sisselax professed extensive knowledge on mathematics and biology… all of which was dated by circa 200 years. Lucien — the demon insisted — should not underestimate the benefits of indoors plumbing.

By the nighttfall, after swimming through an ocean of irrelevant trivia, the only use that Lucien had managed to extract from his summoned fiend was its ability to locate magic artifacts, an ability Sisselax claimed to have acquired after accidentally swallowing a world atlas during a failed attempt at mating. Lucien did not want to know the details.

Now, summoner and summoned had spelunked their way into a cavern which hid the resting place of the Nithenni Dagger, a legendary weapon of old said to have been one of the seven armaments crafted by the dying forge god Voluun, used at the Betrayal of Tri-man the Golden, and the blade which severed the First Giant Lord's brainstem and created the Xanthous Mindstorm. This — Sisselax had sworn on his right tentacle — was a priceless artifact, a prize worthy of the mightiest wizard on the land; Lucien simply begged for it not to be just some divine kitchen knife.

The splashing of Lucien's boots reverberated in the dank dungeon hallway, illuminated by the ghostly fire of the wizard's magic. "How deep does it lie?"

"Pretty deep," Sisselax's footsteps were noiseless, walking upon the surface of the water. "I'd say it's probably… 60."

"60 what?"

"60 deep."

"No, in what units?"

"How am I supposed to know?"

"Because you said it," the words snake through Lucien's teeth like venom.

"Well, with all due respect, you can't expect every resident of under-world to memorize all the different measurement systems you guys have," Sisselax warmly joked. "It's hard to keep track when they're changing all the time."


"Actually, it might be 70."

The wizard's dull thoughts of annoyance were broken by the sound of receding stone. "Lucien, watch out!" the demon tackled him to the water, flaming arrows flying overhead.

Of course. The holding place of the Nithenni Dagger is bound to have precautions against would-be interlopers. "Do you know the locations of the other traps?" Lucien asked as he stood up.

"Yep! Know this place like the back of my…" it looked at its tentacles, a look of contemplation on its malformed face.

"Can you safely navigate this labyrinth or not?" he bellowed.

"Ah!" the demon snapped out of its stupor, "Y-yes, yes, I know how to get through this place. My uncle used to collect blueprints of dungeons when I was a larva, and I would just stare at them and imagine little adventurers walking around and getting slaughtered—"

"Stop talking."

"I— oh— ooo— right, sorry haha." Sisselax rubbed the back of its head-torso.

The hellspawn pointed to a spot on the right, "Thhhhhere. That section's clean."

The rancid vomit smell of the room seemed to mirror Lucien's own sour mood. He exhaled as he stepped onto the designated spot and felt his foot recede downwards.

"Wait, what?" Sisselax chirped.

The sound of something unlatching pierced Lucien's ears as he rolled out of the way of the falling stone block. He felt his hand lower into another trigger as spectral blue hammer slid from the walls and began bashing everything in reach. The solace found in the safe center of the hallway was quickly dispersed, his whole body sinking into a large square recession. A click was followed by an almost human groaning from the darkness in the distance. A pale figure emerged from the end of the hallway, shaking unnaturally like bug-infested corpse pretending to be alive. Its visage was a ghastly facsimile of a man's face, its jaw stretched to the floor, the void that was its mouth almost indistinguishable from the blackness behind it. The intense expression in its eyes served as a window to the unspeakable memories it held within. And then the rest of its body came into view.

Lucien turned to look at Sisselax. Sisselax poked its tentacles together as the monstrosity lunged at them both.

"So I know that didn't go as planned," Sisselax said while hurrying into Lucien's bedroom. "But you have to admit it was a rather… educational experience! Don't awaken the hideous corpse of Voluun— that's a life-changing lesson right there!"

Lucien slammed the door shut and lopped on to the mattress, his robes still steaming with remnants of abyssal substance. He was not in the mood for the imp's chattering. "Your services will be required at a later date," he said, his voice muffled by a pillow.

"Well, you can’t give up on our first try! We got plenty more chances to fulfill your desires! At least until the week is over."

"What do you mean?" Lucien fumed and turned to face the demon. "What happens in a week?"

"Well, I have to fill some forms and then drag your soul down to Hell. Nothing much, really," Sisselax shrugged.

"WHAT?" Lucien flatly hissed. The dawning horror crept up his spine, cold sweat beginning to pearl his forehead as the demon's words etched themselves on his brain.

"Yeah, that's what I was trying to tell you about before! Do you remember? You never did let me finish: my contract stipulates that I must perform the services you summoned me for in the span of a week, and then I'm entitled to take your soul. The way I see it, it's good business!"

"But— how?" Lucien pleaded. How could this be? How could he have missed such an important detail? "I checked… everything…"

"Oh, it’s all in the fine print. Don't really blame you for not knowing, really. Most people don't bother reading it because their eyes start bleeding the minute they get started; it takes a special kind of evil to endure reading our laws— next time, you should hire a lawyer! Well, I mean, that’s what I'd tell you if there was going to be a next time, hehe."

The magician let out a roar that was equal parts horror and anger before thrashing about his abode, crystal flasks and phylacteries shattering as he tore down every piece of furniture in his rampage. Torn books and scrolls soon covered the floor, encircling Lucien as he collapsed on his knees and vomited out bile, his fear finally asserting itself.

"Sorry,” Sisselax casually said over the magician's heaving. "No refunds."

"You… YOU BASTARD!" Lucien sprung forward, brandishing an enchanted sacrificial knife. His eyes reddened and his mouth agape with wrath, he lunged at the demon, only for the blade to sink harmlessly into its flesh.

"Hey, that tickles!" Sisselax giggled. Its skin pushed outwards, the knife clattering on the ground.

Undeterred, Lucien conjured a swarm of shadow locusts which descended upon the demon, intent on devouring every piece of its being. Sisselax simply opened its twin mouths and inhaled, funneling the swarm down its throats before belching with satisfaction.

"Those were pretty tasty! Got any more? I sort of skipped lunch before I got here."

For the next three hours, Lucien unleashed every spell and curse he knew upon the demon, trying again and again to puncture its skin, to cause it pain, to rip from its throats the slightest cry of agony. It was all in vain— by the time he gave up, Sisselax still stood unharmed, giggling as if Lucien's attempts amused it.

"Hey, not to be a mood killer, but I don't think whatever you're attempting is doing much for you," the demon said as it watched Lucien deflate and pound the floor in frustration. "Maybe you should go after a different artifact! I mean, you don't have to follow my advice or anything. Like I said, you're the boss! Your soul, your time, your choice."

Lucien lifted his head and faced the demon, the veins on his forehead bulging and pulsing, his skin a patchwork of reds and purples. He could barely think, his mind a whirpool of despair that pushed him to the brink of tears. He tried to speak, but his throat felt sore, and every sound it made was like the cries of a drowning man. Slowly, the words crawled out of his mouth like dust-bitten spiders.

"Get me my prize, demon. Get me what is mine."

"Consider it done!" Sisselax replied. It stretched its many limbs as if preparing itself for action. "Where to next?"

"So one of these will give way," asked Lucien, his clothes torn and filthy after three hours of climbing through muddy crevices, "and bring down a horde of scorpions and snakes?"

"Scorpions or snakes. The scriptures about Ji's Goblet of Life were never very clear about that part. But yes! Scorpions or snakes!" the diminutive devil stood in front of a quartet of ladders, each made of ordinary wood and rope. "Hmmm… I do remember there only being three. Maybe I just mistook the two center ones for one big one."

"Can you still determine which are the traps?"

"Oh, definitely. The two center ladders are the scorpions, and the right one is the snakes."

"Perfect," the wizard said in a less than satisfied tone as he climbed the leftmost ladder. As his hand reached the top, a piercing sensation struck him like lightning, the pain travelling from his writhing fingertips to every nerve ending on his body. Recoiling, gagging and almost blinded by agony, Lucien looked up to see a stinger poking out over the ledge… followed by a snake head. Stitched-together hybrids of serpent and arachnid — abominations born from a twisted mind beyond his comprehension — began tumbling downwards like water droplets from a leaky ceiling. The ladder gave way, and the droplets became a rainstorm.

"Huh! Never seen those before…" Sisselax remarked over the screaming.

Panicked footfalls bounced down the chamber, their echo quickly devoured by the abhorrent screeching which closed on Lucien like a pack of wolves overwhelming a rabbit. The magician raced towards the light at the end of the tunnel, the silhouette of Sisselax carved into the darkness by blinding yellow light from the outside.

"Hurry! Come on, you're almost— woops!" The demon slipped backwards, accidentally closing the door.

For a brief moment, Lucien's cry of rage rose above the hungry bellowing of the unseen monsters. He slammed his full weight into door and pounded with the fury of a drunken husband who has come home to a cold dinner. "You detestable dimension hopper! Open this door right now, or I will pluck your bones one by one like royally served chicken!"

"You're welcome to try again, but I can't do much!" Sisselax answered from his side of the door. "This door only opens from your side!"

The howls of the creatures — their visages best left untouched by the sun's enlightening warmth — grew closer as Lucien kept banging at the barrier with increasing desperation. "How do I open it?!"

"You have to place your right hand into the orifice at the center of the door! There's a handle in there; turn it and pull!"

A smile of relief crept up the wizard face as he reached for the hole, only for a horrifying realization to dawn upon him: the hole was too small for his hand, and all he managed was to pluck some fingers into it like a prostate exam gone wrong.

"Lucien, what's wrong? Can you find the handle?" the demon again called. The thumps of foreign bodies slapped against the door as Sisselax leaned in closer to get a better listen. The monstrous wails reached a crescendo, the wizard's agonized screams their lead instrument.

"Lucien? Lucien what are those, what's happening?!" The diminutive imp inquired.

"ArrGhAAhhrRGGhhh!" was the only response he received.

"Are you being attacked by pirates?"


"…So, yes?"

"Aaaaand, here we are!" Sisselax proclaimed in the bare room. "Bit of a bumpy journey with all those mutant piranhas in the acid pool and whatnot, but we made it in one piece!" It smiled a bright twin-smile towards Lucien, whose battered and bloody form shambled on like a malnourished dog.

The wizard looked about the chamber, finding nothing but two pits to the sides and a statue of the Weeping God in the back. The devil's warm grin was contorted by Lucien's hands gripping its face with shaking hands. "To clarify, you are familiar with the layout of this labyrinth, correct? You do know the exact spot that holds the Crown of Zuratha, the mind-controlling relic that ended the San Revolution, correct?!"

The eyes of the statue released a bright glint, but Lucien paid them no heed as he continued holding on to the demon.

Sisselax's face mumbled in confusion before shining in realization, "Ohhhhh, I thought you meant some other mind-controlling crown! Yeah, I have no idea where we are."

A rising pitch caught Lucien's attention, and he turned to see the blinding light of the statue's laser eyes.

The week was at an end, and Lucien's entire mortal form ached with the agony of countless wounds that had not yet fully healed. His eyes were baggy, his mouth was dry, and his final moments on this world closed in as the sun descended into the dark horizon that punctuated the end of his failed campaign. There was no one he could blame but himself, foolish to think that it was he who helmed the ship of destiny. His doom was at hand, and all he could think about was not just the eternal torment that awaited his soul, but that all memory of him would fade away, lost to the centuries. Where he had hoped his name and work would stand forever unmatched, he now saw only oblivion. How long would it take for him to be forgotten? How many decades — or perhaps just years — could his legacy endure now? He who had been the greatest magician in all the land, feared and respected by all, was now nothing but a luckless pauper who knelt and trembled as he awaited his fate.

Sisselax was much more optimistic. As the last hour of the last day closed in on them, the inept abomination settled down besides its summoner and wrapped a rubbery tentacle around his shoulders. Lucien had no will left to resist the gesture.

"Well… I'm sure this paints a pretty bleak picture for you, what with all the torture that awaits you, all the fire and brimstone… oh, this one time we forced a guy to inhale as deep as they could until they started siphoning their own body into their mouth and turned themself inside-out. Really good stuff! But eh… I guess that's not really much comfort for you, is it? Yeah, sorry."

Lucien simply moaned and buried his face in his hands, still resisting the indignity of weeping in front of the demon who had ended him.

"Oh, come on, Lucien! Cheer up a bit, and maybe Hell won't be so bad for you! I'm sure you'll be remembered up here somehow. Maybe it's not about for how long, but about what for. Think about it: you terrorized entire nations since you were a teenager. You killed hundreds of people with the devastation your spells caused! You outlived every would-be archmage who sought to usurp you! You're a magician as great as any there has ever been!"

The wizard turned to look at the imp, the ghastly look on his face giving in ever so slightly to a timid smile of resignation.

"Do you really think so, Sisselax?" Lucien addressed the demon by its name for the first time. Perhaps, he hoped, it was right, and even in his darkest hour he had managed to triumph.

"Sure! Maybe your legacy isn't what you expected, but even your downfall has a something to tell the world."

Lucien did not answer, but the smile disappeared completely as a horrible realization dawned upon him. Two huge grins — wider than any that it had smiled before — filled the entirety of Sisselax's face.

"Heeeeey! Maybe that's it!" The demon chirped. "You will be forever remembered as the great magician who perished because he couldn't read the fine print! Of course! I can tell your story! What a great way to memorialize someone with your talents! See? It wasn't all for nothing, Lucien! Your legacy will live on! Well, sort of. Are cautionary tales considered a legacy?"

Lucien would have wanted to scream, to rage one last time at the demon and curse it with all his might, but at that moment the clock struck midnight, and the maw of Hell opened to claim him: a fiery circle of black light, its walls lined with teeth that chewed and tongues that ensnared, opened below Lucien's form and swallowed him whole. He screamed all the way down — infinitely, eternally — as the tariff for his tresspasses was collected at last and the realms below dragged him to damnation. All that was left of Lucien was a vague stench of shattered pride and blood-stained trails that his fingernails had carved on the floor.

"Well, there goes another happy customer!" Sisselax celebrated before jumping down the monstrous throat that still gaped and gasped where there had once been a man. The mouth of Hell closed before it, and Sisselax the Devourer was no more.

And all was silent.

Well, dear, that's all for tonight. I hope you enjoyed our little story.

Oh, you want to know what the lesson here was? Very well, I'm no Aesop, but I guess the moral is this: beware of your own hubris, and always read the fine print— even if it does make your eyes bleed!

Good night, Cathy. Sweet dreams.


Sisselax the Devourer.

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