Chapter 1

Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, NonConsensual, Reluctant, Coercion, Mind Control, Magic, Slavery, Gay, Lesbian, BiSexual, Heterosexual, TransGender, CrossDressing, Fiction, Science Fiction, BDSM, DomSub, MaleDom, FemaleDom, Rough, Light Bond, Sadistic, Group Sex, Oral Sex, Anal Sex, Sex Toys, Size, Transformation, .

Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Daniel had been in love. Then, the woman that he loved found someone else. However, a mysterious ring, created in the time of King Solomon, has given him the power to bend minds and bodies to his will. Will he use it to gain revenge on the people he thinks have wronged him?

It had been my intention to give the ring to her on her birthday.

As I sat in my car across from the suburban house, I could sense them inside - the kinky ones, with their minds on giving or receiving pain for pleasure. I had been among them before, dishing out punishment to my lover/best friend Sara, showing our little intimacies and discoveries to an appreciative audience.

Now she was inside receiving the same attention from someone else... and I wasn't going to stand for it.

As I walked down the driveway, I again marveled at how innocuous the house looked, nestled in amongst its neighbors. I wondered if anyone in those houses to the left or right of my destination knew what went on inside... or if, wrapped in their own cocoon of middle-class existence, the just waved off the monthly get-togethers as some type of social club. Not knowing that, right this minute, inside a soundproofed room that had formerly been a garage, a woman was hanging from her wrists, blindfolded and gagged, while a man dressed in Chinese silk flailed her with a leather flogger.

I wondered if they would even care?

She had always like things tinged with gothic or occult trappings. Several times we had visited the occult bookstore in the old pedestrian mall, browsing the titles, taking in the collection of "spells" and "charms" that made up the magic section of the shop.

I had been browsing that day, intent on finding something she would love for her birthday. She generally liked silver jewelry, with charms or inlay suggesting natural or magical bent. I had been through several jewelry stores looking for something that I thought would catch her fancy, but it all seemed generic, plodding... uninspired.

On a whim, I decided to stop into the occult place, thinking maybe they had gotten in something new that she hadn't had a chance to see yet.

The old guy who usually worked at the counter was apparently taking the afternoon off. In his place stood a very, VERY old lady, cronish in appearance - wrinkled, shrunken, wrapped in a knitted scarf she wore over her head and around her shoulders. His mother, perhaps? She didn't say anything to me as I began to look through the various silver chains and charms that lined the counter near the front of the store.

The screen door was shut and locked, as was normal for the group - there was no sense in letting some denizen of the vanilla world wander into the lair unaccompanied on a meeting night. I stood there pondering whether or not to use my powers to let myself in, but only a moment went by before the front door opened and someone emerged, quickly closing the door behind him. As he moved to light a cigarette, I raised my hand and knocked on the wood frame. He turned to peer through the shadows toward the screen; the fire at the end of the cigarette was the only thing completely visible in the darkness as he took a drag, then let out a lungful of smoke.

"You shouldn't be here, Daniel," came the voice in the darkness.

"Especially not tonight."

Unlike Sara, I have never been a big believer in the occult. I was the science fiction stalwart, believing that technology was both the bane and the boon of man. I was the typical computer-phile, ooing and ahhing over advanced hardware and new versions of software, purchasing new peripherals and teaching myself how to use programs without reading the reference guides. I was the one who wrote the cautionary tales of technology gone wrong, with twisting Twilight Zone endings. I was the one that believed that the more advanced the science, the more akin to magic it would seem.

She, on the other hand, loved fantasy fiction and stories of the occult. She believed in homeopathy and Wiccanism and the power of white magic. She liked blood and knives and cutting and piercing. When she wrote, she wrote tales of her life, thinly hidden behind a name change here and there. Tales of submission, of stripping, of sex. Dramatizations of things that had happened, or things she wished would happen.

It was the irony of our relationship, I suppose - the feet-on-the-ground realist who wrote fantasies based on fact, and the white-magic submissive whose stories always seemed to encompass something from her own life, just glossed over a bit.

Still, she and I were exploring new depths together... and I loved her. So I wanted something as a gift that showed how much I could appreciate her passions. But none of the jewelry in the shop seemed to match what was in my head - not so much an image, but a feeling that I would know what I was looking for when I held it in my hands. None of the jewelry there met that requirement, so I turned to go.

"I am here. I am a member of this group. Open the door."

The man moved from the shadows, walking down the stairs and into the light by the door. As I had thought, it was Gerry, the owner of the house, sneaking outside to sneak a smoke while everyone else was occupied. Gerry, who everyone called "Fatfuck" behind his back, because everyone knew that he had been skimming the membership dues and monthly meeting fees for things aside from new toys for the dungeon or snacks for the monthly meets. If it weren't for the fellowship that the others shared, and that he had a ready-made dungeon available for use, the members of "his" group would already have walked out and gone looking elsewhere.

"Ramon wouldn't like it. And I don't want any fights in my house. I'm not opening the door."

I looked closely through the screen at the man whom I probably detested just a bit less than Ramon. A man who didn't need the money he skimmed from the members of our group, but took it anyway because he felt he was "entitled."

I wouldn't feel bad crushing him under my boot like a bug.

The old lady caught my hand before I could walk out the door.

"You want to buy something special for someone, yes?" she asked in a thick European accent.

"Yes. My girl's birthday is coming up, and I'd like to give her something... extraordinary."

The old lady looked at me intently, her brown eyes apparently looking for something in my manner. I felt like she was looking right through me, reading me like one of the books in the store. "May I read your palm?" Unable to look away, I simply nodded my head.

She traced a finger across my palm, but unlike the palm readers I'd grown used to seeing on carnival midways or beach boardwalks, she didn't talk about lifelines or spout vague clichs. "You are in love. The woman is very sexual, but likes to kneel at your feet. You enjoy giving her what she wants, but wonder if you are exactly the right fit for her needs."

True enough. Her passion for needles and cutting and blood were not high on my list of enjoyable activities, but they pushed her over the edge into huge orgasms whenever we did them together. Still, her desire to cut her own body sometimes gave me pause.

"You wish she would tell you that she loves you, but she is holding back."

Again, true enough. Sara had never returned the "I love you" that I had said repeatedly over the course of the months we had been together. I had fallen for her quickly and completely, but she had been hurt repeatedly, and refused to fall into what she termed "the trap of love" before she was ready.

"You care more for others than you do yourself. Your own misery means nothing as long as those you love are doing well. You do not desire money or power to elevate yourself, but only to care for those who need your help."

Perhaps. I was easy to be friendly with, but hard to befriend. Those that got close enough and hung around got pretty much whatever they needed, when and if I had it. My family always came first... then my friends. To me, Sara was now a part of my family, and I wanted to care for her completely and totally.

"You are an odd combination of traits... dominant but romantic, creative but grounded, sympathetic but always needing to be in control. You understand the consequences of power because, in your mind, you have concluded that ultimate power ultimately destroys the one who wields it." With that, she let go of my hand, apparently satisfied with what she had read. Then she reached under the counter and brought out a jewelry box.

"I think that this is what you seek." She gestured for me to open it.

Inside the box on black silk lay what was obviously a man's ring. It was ornate silver, with some type of runes and symbols carved around the length of the band. More runes were fashioned in a circle around the stone set in the ring's center... a stone so black that it seemed to suck in the room's light, making the whole place dimmer. It was heavy in my hand, but holding it there, I could see it in my mind's eye, perhaps on a silver chain around Sara's neck.

It matched exactly with what I had seen in my mind's eye.

"How much?" I asked eagerly, wanting to secure my prize before it could be snatched away from me.

The old woman looked at me intensely again, immobilizing me with her iron glare. "The Ring of Solomon has no price, young one! It is immortal, priceless! It cannot be reckoned in terms of mere money!"

"Oh." Thinking that meant the ring wasn't for sale, I placed it back in the box and slid it across the counter. "Well, thank you for showing it to me." I turned to go.

"Daniel," she said softly. When I turned to face her, her eyes had softened noticeably. "I said that its value could not be reckoned in terms of money. But it can be given outright to one who will care for it properly.

"And I choose to give it to you." She slid the ring back across the counter toward me.

"What's the catch?" I could visualize me walking out of the store, then being arrested somewhere in the mall, as the old lady laughed her ass off.

"Catch? There is no catch, as you say." She leaned over the counter to grip my hand. "Should you ever choose to use the ring, Daniel, the cost to you may be tremendous. Keep it safe." With that she sank back onto her stool, dismissing me with her eyes.

Deciding that she meant it, I picked up the box and put it in my pocket, and walked quickly from the store before she could change her mind.

Two weeks later, as I was walking with Sara through the mall, we both were disappointed when we reached the shop and found a sign on the door that said "Gone Out of Business."

"I'll ask you one more time, Gerry. Open the door."

He turned to walk away, shaking his head and not saying a word.

At my thought, the stone in the ring on my left hand began generating an intense power. Tapping into that power, I extended my senses outward, until I touched Gerry's mind with my own. He immediately stopped moving, his muscles locked into place. Then, like an automaton, he turned around stiffly and began shuffling back toward the door. His fingers fumbled briefly at the latch before it flopped loosely against the wood of the door, and he opened it wide to admit me.

"See, that wasn't so hard, was it?" I asked as I smiled maliciously down at his rotund form. Gerry couldn't answer, as he was locked into place by the force of my mental grip on his mind and body. He simply stared straight-ahead, empty of all thoughts and feelings not emanating from me.

"I've always wondered, Gerry... why do you rip off the people in this group? You don't mind if I rummage around a bit in that head of yours, do you?" Even as I said it, I was already diving into his mind.

Having practiced on various people for the last few weeks, it wasn't strange to be rooting around in Gerry's head. Once I got past the surface thoughts (a mixture of "Whatthefuck?" and "Why can't this guy just leave?"), it was a simple matter to plumb the shallows of his mind to find what I knew was always there.

Gerry was insecure.

A supposed dominant male, Gerry lived in fear of losing control of all manner of things... his wife, his fetish group, his job. He lived to avoid confrontation, which is why he married someone who would accept his controlling nature without protest. Surprisingly enough, Gerry really did love his wife, mainly because he was grateful she put up with him. And he skimmed because... it excited him. It excited him to know that all the people in the group knew he was taking money, and they didn't challenge him. So he would go on doing it until someone stepped forward and made him stop.

It made him feel like a big man.

I dug deeper into Gerry's mind, watching certain scenes replay themselves, looking for... 'now that's interesting, ' I thought.

At every gathering, Gerry had a small television set up in the dining room, playing a variety of scenes from other people's fetish libraries. In Gerry's mind, I could see how much the supposed dominant was turned on by scenes in which a Mistress had outfitted a submissive in tight latex, with nothing but air holes for breathing. Then the Domme would walk over, beat, and fondle the man at her whim. For Gerry, the idea of being mummified and controlled was an absolute turn-on. And one he buried for fear of being seen as weak and submissive.

'Oh, this is going to be so much fun, Gerry!' I thought, withdrawing from all but that portion of his mind that kept the shorter man immobile. Then I mentally touched my power source again.

Concentrating, I imagined a thick black coat of latex bubbling from the ground under Gerry's feet, covering them and continuing up Gerry's legs. The rotund man was wearing only a loose robe, and was otherwise naked, so it was easy to look down and picture what I wanted to happen. Seconds later, latex was materializing from nowhere to cover the man's feet and ankles. As I let my eyes wander up the man's body, the latex advanced, sliding sinuously over the hairy flesh, leaving behind only the glossy shine of polished obsidian.

The fabric moved under the robe, not disturbing it except to make it bulge slightly as it passed underneath. I squeezed mentally, and Gerry stood at attention, his rigid pose helping the latex fit on his body with fewer wrinkles and bumps. When it reached Gerry's neck, the liquid fabric split in three directions: continuing upward toward the head, and sliding down each arm toward the hands. Within moments, Gerry's entire head was covered, except for an opening for each nostril. Moments later, his fingers and hands were covered, too.

I stepped back a pace to admire my work. Gerry was no longer in evidence. Instead, a fat latex-covered mannequin was standing at attention in front of me. Looking "it" over, I could see a few things I needed to change about my new creation. Again squeezing mentally, I started to tighten the latex around Gerry's midsection, pulling his rather pronounced pot-belly inward until it at least had some sense of proportion with the rest of him. Then, concentrating on Gerry's physiology, I aroused the latex statue's penis. I had to shake my head when the fully extended cock reached only five inches. 'That will never do, ' I thought, imagining something a little more fitting for the pompous, horse's-arse of a man. The words "horse cock" echoed through my brain, and soon Gerry's phallus extended out 24 inches from his crotch, and his balls, even though pressed against his body by the latex, looked like a pair of baseballs that were half visible in the shiny fabric. Last, but certainly not least, I had Gerry open his mouth, where latex molded and fit itself into a penis-gag, filling his mouth and threatening to lodge in the back of his throat.

'Very nice, ' I though, looking at his newly created latex toy. "Now, Gerry, I'm going to make this very easy for you. You will stand there, unmoving, until someone comes out here to play with you. You are a mannequin, so you can't move your own arms, legs, and head, but if someone moves you, you will hold whatever position they place you in. If they attach a leash to the rings set in your collar, you will follow them wherever they lead. You can feel anything that is done to you, especially to your now extremely sensitive cock. But no matter how close you come to orgasm, you cannot cum, at least, not until I say so. And, Gerry? While you will be mentally blocked from moving or talking, you will be aware of everything that happens to you while you are in your little suit.

"Whether you enjoy it or not is up to you."

Having said my piece, I left Gerry alone on the screened porch, and walked up the steps and into the house.

I never got the chance to give Sara the ring.

Less than a month after we walked past the closed bookstore, she told me we were through. Not that I hadn't had indications that things were going south.

At the last play party we went to before the break-up, she spent almost no time with me. Instead, a newcomer by the name of Lord Ramon held most of her attention.

Ramon was certainly a presence. Dressed in gold and black Chinese silk, he looked almost regal. His eyes were dark, and when he looked directly at you, you could feel him mentally dissecting you like a bug, then dismissing you. And, when he opened his mouth, fangs peeked out from underneath his upper lip.

He was, without a doubt, a most disconcerting man.

That evening, I had bound Sara's hands, then hooked them to a chain in the ceiling, tightening it to the point that, if she lost her feet, her arms would take the weight and she wouldn't move downward more than an inch or two. I then hooded and gagged her. Taking our favorite toy, a blue leather flogger, I began warming her up, lightly swatting her buttocks, her back, her breasts, and, occasionally, her clit. Each time she felt ready to move to the next level, she would lift one of her legs, like a horse pawing at the ground. And I would start moving faster and harder, striking alternately stinging, then thudding blows. As the strikes from the flogger intensified, so did her moans of pain and ecstasy. I continued around her, varying where I placed the blows, until, with a shudder, her knees buckled and she was left hanging from the ceiling.

As I normally did, I stopped swinging the flogger and quietly ran my hands over the red marks left by my work. I ran my fingers between her legs, where the juices from her pussy were flowing down her legs in copious amounts. Slowly, she recovered her equilibrium, as I whispered encouraging words to her. Finally, when she was standing and in control again, I stepped back to resume my ministrations...

There was a hand on my wrist. It belonged to Lord Ramon.

"Would you mind if I played with your slut for a while? Perhaps I might even teach you something you didn't know."

Before I could respond, Ramon had begun expertly flicking a single-tail whip along Sara's back. Without the slightest hint of effort, he made light contact with whatever area he chose, the snap of the whip jolting Sara as it touched her. Around and around her body he went, slowly increasing the force he brought to bear, and with each increase, her cries of pain and passion intensified. Ramon stroked her, talked to her, told her when each blow was coming... and she responded to each stroke with loud cries that assailed me because I had never been able to generate such passion in her. He paused a moment in his whipping to attach a clothespin to each of her nipples. She writhed in agony, begging through her gag to have them removed... which he did by aiming very precise strikes with his whip that knocked each pin to the ground. He continued until Sara hung limply from her restraints, drool leaking from the corner of her gag, a few last blows getting no reaction at all. With that he discarded the whip and walked blithely out the door of the dungeon, leaving me to let Sara down and hold her while she recovered.

The rest of the night, her eyes rarely left Ramon, though he almost never looked at her. His disinterest, the way he had used her, and the skill he had exhibited... I had seen the look in her before, when she had opened the lid on a box sent to her by a friend in Toronto. The smell of pot assailed us both, and for a moment she looked she would do anything just for a toke, even though she promised me she had not touched the stuff in at least a year.

When she looked at Ramon, I saw the same hunger in her eyes.

Within the week, she had him over to her room and had him play with her again.

Within two, she happily declared herself his, our relationship was over.

And the ring sat in its box, on the top shelf of my closet, unremembered.

The living room of the house was arranged exactly as it had been for every gathering I had ever been to... the little table behind the couch with the legal pad where everyone signed in; the small wooden box with the slit in its top for everyone to drop their dues and monthly meeting fees into; and the various chairs and cushions arranged in a circle for demonstrations or discussions of the various techniques and implements of pain.

Gerry's wife was standing at the sign-in table frowning as I opened the door; pressing into her mind, I found she was simply annoyed that her husband, despite his promises, continued to sneak outside to smoke. She looked up and saw me, and made to say something... then, came over and gave me a big hug and kiss. Joy shone from her eyes as she said "Oh, Daniel, it's so good to see you!"

Of course, she felt that way because I had told her brain to do so, but then a hug and kiss from Leslie was never an unwelcome experience. Though she was married to the loathsome Gerry, she was generally extremely friendly, and as a hostess she had few equals. In other words, she was 70% of the reason most of the people still came to the monthlies.

Leaning down to return her hug, I whispered in her ear "Les, Gerry's out on the porch and he's got a surprise for you. Why don't you go and give him a hand?" Even as I was saying it, I was placing small blocks and commands here and there in her mind. She stood stock still for a moment; then a feral grin lit up her face. She turned back to the table, finding the crop, spurs, and stiletto heels that only just materialized. Taking them in hand, she shouted over her shoulder "Don't have too much fun!" before running out onto the screen porch to play with her new toy.

Until April, Sara had lived in a small room inside a house owned by a college student. Annoyed with his demands that she not bring her Lord Ramon home, she finally moved into a garage loft offered by a small elderly woman who needed help meeting her mortgage payment. Not owning that much, she had loaded it all in two cars and left without saying a word to her old landlord, leaving no forwarding address or telephone.

Which I suppose is why he called me. Which is why I suppose I drove the two hours from my apartment to her old place to pick up a box of discarded items that she apparently felt she had no use for... most of which were mine anyway.

They were books, mostly. Used books we had picked up here and there, both because we admired the author and wanted to read more, or because we laughed at the titles and wanted to laugh at the contents. There were pictures of the two of us, laughing, kissing, cuddling... just being friends and lovers. Down near the bottom, there was the blue flogger I had enjoyed using on her so much.

I don't remember starting the fire in the fireplace. But the books made a soul satisfying crackle as I tossed them one by one into the flames. The pictures curled and shriveled in the heat, the emulsion melting onto the logs. The flogger took longer, but eventually shriveled to ash and rivets in the dregs of the flames.

Last but not least, I found a book simply labeled "Journal." 'This ought to be good, ' I thought to myself, turning to the first page.

She apparently had begun keeping a journal when she moved back to the US from Canada. The entries were occasional at first, full of angst at her failed marriage, her battles with avoiding relapses into addiction, her hope of finding someone to fulfill her need for domination.

Then my name popped for the first time. The journal entries became more regular, a chronicle of where we had gone and what we had done... of how our exploration of pain and passion was giving her new hope for the future.

One passage jumped out from the page at me: "He tells me that he loves me, but I won't say it back to him. But I do love him, I do!"

I kept reading, hoping to find what had happened, what had changed. But with each page I turned, it seemed to add up to one thing: she wanted to be hit harder, taken farther, hurt more. She wanted to be used more, loved less. She wanted to be property, to be owned and treated like a toy, a pet, a servant... a slave.

She was becoming more and more convinced that I could not take her to that place.

The next to last entry seared me like a blowtorch on bare skin: "I love Daniel, but he cannot do what I need to feel fulfilled. I know he loves me too, but he is not totally into treating me like the pain slut I need to be. I don't think we have a future together."

But the last entry... I wasn't sure what it could mean: "I went to the bookstore today, and the old lady at the counter said she had the book that could make my wishes come true. I don't know if I really believe in magic, but could it really hurt to try to get exactly what I want for once in my life? The spell isn't difficult, and if it really works, than I'll probably be happier than I've ever been... but at what price?"

A spell? Magic? The old lady at the bookstore? The one that had given him the... ?

There was something written on the very last page of the journal, something which I might have mistaken for a doodle if it hadn't tickled my memory. It was some sort of glyph... a rune of sorts...

'On the ring!' I thought. 'It's one of the symbols on the ring!'

As there was no one else in the living room, and I didn't want to go into the dungeon too quickly, I made my way through the rest of the house, starting in Gerry's little office.

During the monthlies, Gerry dragged a small padded table into the room and let people experiment with wax. I felt a small pang when I remembered how Sara had led me into that room one night, had me tie her down, and bade me to pour wax onto her nipples and breasts. She nearly came when I dripped a line of wax down her abdomen and into her belly button, trailing off just before the wax could drip onto her clit.

Tonight, Jennifer and Margaret were in the room. Jenni (with an "i", as she always added) was strapped to the table tonight, as her lover Marg (never Maggie) poured wax over her torso. I had never understood the attraction between them - Jenni, so lovely and lively, Marg, so dour and plump - but they were here each month, exploring some new aspect of pain play.

I reached into their minds and made them ignore me as I walked into the room, observing how Jenni was reacting to the wax on her breasts and nipples. Slowly, I increased the amount of wax flowing onto Jenni's body, making both women oblivious to how much was coming from the small red candle. I guided Marg's hands, so that the wax flowed evenly until it covered Jenni's torso from neck to waist. And the wax continued to flow, and Marg poured it over Jenni's legs and feet, then directly on her crotch. Jenni was so lost in the erotic haze of the wax flowing over her that she never noticed her body disappearing into the wax. Marg continued to pour wax over Jenni's hands and arms, and, when nothing was left but Jenni's head, she poured wax over that too.

Marg unfastened the straps and helped Jenni from the table. With a little push from me, the candle wax flowed and molded itself over Jenni's back, down her buttocks, and over the rest of her legs. Moments later, a perfect wax statue of Jenni was standing where before there had been but a human girl.

I let myself become visible then, touching the wax that had formed over her body, marveling at how beautiful Jenni looked in her new waxen sheath. When I turned to Marg, she was on her knees, madly frigging herself with one hand. She held out the candle to me like a supplicant, saying only one word.


I smiled as I took the candle from her hand, and then reconsidered.

'Purple, ' I thought, and the candle I wanted flew into my hand from the shelf above the padded bench.

Marg moaned as the first drippings of wax struck her on the forehead and began sliding down her body.

The ring had not left the top of my closet since the day I bought it. After Sara and I broke up, if I had even thought about it I might have thrown it in the garbage. As it was, it simply sat ignored and unremembered among other stray objects with no other home.

I removed the box from the shelf and made my way back into the living room. The fire flickered and crackled as I opened the lid and stared down into the black stone, which had been given to me with so few explanations. 'Keep it safe, Daniel, ' the old lady had said. How had she known my name?

I picked it up out of its silken bed and let it rest on my palm. The flickering firelight seemed to dim as the black stone sucked up the light, reflecting nothing, not even a gleam on its surface. I turned the ring from side to side, checking each marking on its surface, looking for the one I knew was there. And, as the markings started to thin out on the left side, there it was. The bottommost marking on that side of the ring, it matched exactly with the drawing on the last page of Sara's journal. 'But what does it mean?'

I twiddled my fingers, feeling the ring bounce up and down on top of them. 'Magic, spells, rings... none of this makes any sense!' I had caught the ring on the edge of one finger, and was twirling it around like a miniature Hula-Hoop. Not being left handed, and not accustomed to the weight of the ring, I almost dropped it onto the floor. Pulling my hand back quickly, I felt the ring tick the nail on my index finger... then slide its way down to the base of the digit.

Almost immediately, I felt the ring constrict around my finger. Holding my hand up, I could see that the oversized ring was no longer too big for me, but instead circled my finger like it was custom made. 'That is just totally weird!'

I ran my fingers over the fine raised markings that circled the ring and its stone. Bringing the journal closer to my hand, I twisted the ring to have a closer look at the symbol near the bottom of the left side. With the index finger of my right hand I began to trace the symbol on the ring, even as my left index finger was touching the symbol on the page.

I felt what was happening before I saw it. The ring started to vibrate as my fingers joined the two symbols. Suddenly, light exploded from the ring, blinding me with its intensity as it bathed in room in pure white brilliance. I was still seeing stars when I felt the vibration from the ring falter and then cease.

When I could see clearly again, light was still coming from the ring, forming a cone in the air in front of the fireplace. Inside the cone, a hideous mass of lumpy, misshapen flesh writhed and slithered, yet seemed strangely insubstantial. I sat up straight on the sofa, wondering what the hell I'd stumbled onto.

"What the fuck are you?" I shouted at the ghostly mass hovering in the air before me.

With the sibilance of a talking snake, the creature hissed back "I am Ornias, demon of mischief and murder. Who are you, pitiful worm, and why have you summoned me with the ring of King Solomon?"

Stunned, I said the first thing that came to mind.

"Uhhhh... what?" The demon and his cage waved in the air as I shook my hand, trying to figure out what was happening.

"Idiot! Imbecile! You have summoned a power you cannot comprehend! Let me go, now, and I may yet let you live!"

"I... I don't know how. Tell me what to do, how to use this thing!"

The demon glared at me from behind the wall of light, flexing his claws. He obviously wished he could use them on me.

"Drooling dolt! I don't know how you came by the ring, but I will not help you use it!" And with that he turned his back to me.

Stunned, and more than a bit pissed off, I screamed in frustration. It took me a few minutes of deep breathing before I could open my eyes and look again at the apparition projected from the stone of the ring. But as the demon continued to show me his back, I felt an icy determination settle inside me. I didn't know what was happening, but I'd be damned if I gave up before I had some answers.

"Demon or not, it looks like you and I are stuck with each other for a while, Ornias. As for whether or not you'll help me, I remember of the words of my father, whom I once in a great while tried to defy when he told me to do something. He always uttered the same four words to me, and I'll offer them to you now.

"We'll see about that."

The demon's only answer was a derisive snort.

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