Why, hello there! Say, I wasn't expecting guests this evening...what's that, you say? You're some sort of incorporeal spirit that exists in another dimension, and thus have not the power to greet me back, much less have a chat over a cup of tea? Oh, never mind then.

Alright, then. You've convinced me. I have a lot of things on my mind right now, you see, and nobody down here in the Abyss seems eager to hear me out. As a matter of fact, whenever I try to have a heart-to-heart chat with any of the demons, they mostly just laugh and try to tear my eyes out. So, if you'd like to listen, I can tell you my story. Oh, and I promise not to speak as if I am addressing you in particular, because that would be really annoying. And just because I'm Chaotic doesn't mean I don't keep my word.

Anyway, if you (Woops, sorry! I won't do it again.) haven't already guessed, or read the summary for that matter, I'm a demon. A babau demon, to be exact. If you don't know what that looks like, just try to imagine an almost skeletal humanoid figure with sharp fangs, big pointy ears, claws, red, torn skin, and a barbed tail. Did I forget the inky black eyes? Yeah, I have inky black eyes. And a spear that I named Sophie. My name, if you are wondering, is Khaa-Mal'Thaxmar-Quorixx'imesh. But you can call me, excuse me, I mean: my friends call me Khaa.

I live on the first of the Infinite Layers of the Abyss. I assume you would have first guessed that I would have said some random number, like 503, or 181, or 666. But nope, I live on the first layer, Pazunia. (Wait, am I forgetting something...?)

Well, Pazunia is a pretty nice place by demonic standards. You get a clear view of the blood-red sky and that giant meteor that's prophesized to destroy the multiverse one day. The vrocks can often be found playing their games of sky football, with the losers, of course, condemned to an eternal existence as nalfeshnee toilet paper. Sometimes I like to bathe in the River Styx. It really is interesting to scuba dive and go on a treasure hunt for the abandoned hopes and dreams of innocent mortals.

But all my bloody, needlessly violent life, I felt that something was...missing. Something that no quantity of bloodshed could quench, some desire that no amount of devoured babies could satisfy. It made me feel lonely, left out from all the other demons. As a matter of fact, they didn't let me play in any of their demon games, such as Pin the Spear on the Virgin, Wheel of Misfortune, and Hangman. This did give me plenty of time to try to discover myself, however. But whatever my big secret that my mind wasn't telling me was, the Abyss didn't have it.

But one day, (or night, you can't tell because the sky's always red) it all hit me. I was just sitting out on the front porch of my cave, sipping a cup of tea made from the juice of a squid's crushed eyeball, when I saw this stumbling, confused figure. As it got nearer, I realized that this figure was no demon, but a beautiful human woman. Oh, what am I saying! Those mortals are disgusting, not beautiful. Blegh.

Anyways, this human woman looked like a lost, confused puppy. She was crying for help, but her calls went unanswered, possibly attracting a few cannibalistic demons. This lady looked like a decent person, and I decided she must have ended up in the Abyss by mistake. You see, when mortals die, they are sent to an afterlife based on how good or evil they were in life. The Abyss is where those who revel in carnage, bloodlust, and destruction end up. But every so often, slip-ups will happen. Occasionally good, selfless folk will find themselves posthumously bathed in eternal flame, and it's not unheard of for serial killers to end up on a golden throne getting footrubs from angels.

But I digress. The woman stumbled closer and closer, and I stood up to get a better look. That's when she saw me. She stood petrified, examining my form up and down. I shifted my taloned feet awkwardly.

"Morg-otho sko'rex. Hizz'thai gurrim mal'gallis?" I asked her. She didn't respond. I guess she didn't speak Abyssal, then, considering I just said "Hello there. What's your name?" in my native tongue.

"Ek skaa'an tu'ahlak qu tho'gynn?" She began to run away. So, I guess she doesn't speak Draconic, either.

"Help!" she shouted, because it worked so well the other times. So I figured out that she spoke Common, and I was about to reassure her that I wasn't planning on tearing her limb from limb, a pack of quasits, with swirling claws, teeth, and wings, swarmed her and tore her limb from limb. They swarmed off, fighting over who got dibs on which vital organ.

A normal demon would have probably tackled this woman when he first sighted her, peeled off her skin, and used it as pancake batter. But I did not, and I was even feeling pretty sickened when she got mauled by those demons back there. And it was then that I realized something.

I realized that I wished that I would have helped that woman. I wished I would have fought off those quasits and helped her survive in this Chaotic equivalent of a Hellhole, maybe even try to get her to her rightful destination. It would feel good if I got a chance to help the innocent. Most demons, however, get pleasure from mindless destruction and perversion of all things beautiful. That is what was different about me.

I spent all night (or was it day...?) thinking about that. So I made up my mind the next day (night?). Whatever I wanted to do in my eternal afterlife, the Abyss could not provide me with it. So I decided to leave, plain and simple.

But where would I go? The Elemental Plane of Fire? Too hot. The Para-Elemental Plane of Ice? Too cold. The Quasi-Elemental Plane of Salt? Nah, too salty. The Material Plane? Too-wait...

The Material Plane is where almost all mortals reside. If I went there, I might be able to get the chance to help somebody out! The Abyss, you see, is so unfathomably horrid that everything good and righteous gets snuffed out like a lit match in a dark ocean. If I went to one of the Upper Planes, such as Heaven, which is the exact opposite of here, the angels would probably have my head on a pike by the time I introduced myself. But the Material Plane? A perfect mix of good, evil, and everything in between! There are plenty of people in need in that place, and I'm just the right guy to help them out.

The problem, however, was getting there. I don't know any magic, much less have the ability to travel across the universe. But at that instant, I remembered hearing whispered rumors, of a visiting devil who was willing to perform astronomical miracles, including planeshifting! ...For a small fee.

So I packed my bags. I took care to bring all my valuables. My half-full box of Liver Bitz®, a bag of cephalopod eyeballs for a snack, and of course, my lovely Sophie. As I was heading out the door, I decided that if I wanted to be known as a nice, human-friendly guy, eating their vital organs for breakfast might not make the best first impression.

Sighing with regret, I opened the box of my favorite cereal and poured it on the molten ground. But to be fair, they aren't actually lungs. But they do have that Real Lung Flavor!®

Satisfied with my sacrifice, I plodded off into the wild, beginning my journey to leave my home forever. I just hope that devil, if he exists, really likes squid cornea.

-:-

Under the third Red Star of Cornelius, betwixt the Great Trees of Life, following the West Winds from the Fountain of Eternal Youth. That is where you will find Abraxas the Wishmaker.

That location happened to be in a hut a stone's throw away from my house.

I knocked politely on the door, waiting for an answer. Around ten slow seconds passed before the door opened slightly, just wide enough to allow a small, reptilian eye to peek from the inside.

"Hi," I said.

The door was thrown open. "Welcome, welcome!" A goateed man with curled, goatlike horns stood at the door, holding his arms out in a welcoming manner. His eyes were indeed snakelike, and I couldn't help but notice a forked tongue sliding over a set of fangs.

"Well, come in!" he waved me inside. I had to lean down a little to make it in the door, but I managed. He motioned for me to sit at a little table, and he began pouring a black, viscous liquid for the both of us, using human skulls as cups.

"What is that, if you don't mind me asking?" I said to my host.

"It's a traditional drink we have back in the Nine Hells," he explained cheerfully as the liquid drizzled down, maddeningly slow, in a manner comparable to molasses. "The phlegm of a black dragon. It's used to seal pacts."

"Oh." He must have already known why I was here, I suppose.

"Why, silly me! I forgot to introduce myself!" he shouted suddenly as he was still pouring the phlegmatic mixture in my glass-I mean, skull-I mean, cup. "My name is Abraxas. Some call me the Wishmaker. Although I assume you already know this."

I nodded. "My name's-"

His hand lashed out, covering my bloody, skeletal maw. "Oh, don't be a bonehead!" he laughed. "I don't need to know your name for the pact to work! Now let's get down to business." He began pouring the vile drink in his own skull-cup. "What do you want?"

"What do I want?" I asked.

"I don't know, you tell me," the snakelike devil snapped impatiently. "Or is that your wish? For a small fee, I can tell you what you want to wish for! I am a telepath, you know! You're limited to one wish, though!"

"No, wait!" I interrupted. "I know what I want! I want...to go to the Material Plane."

"Very well, then." he hissed. He fixed his concentration on the slow, pitch black stream once more.

"Don't you want to know why?" I asked him.

"No," he answered coldly.

I hung my head, listening to the slowly ticking clock. Unlike clocks manufactured in the Abyss, this clock's hands weren't construced out of mortal fingers. I suppose devils do have better taste...

"There we are!" chirped Abraxas as he finished pouring. He folded his fingers together. "Now...I assume you know that I don't perform my miracles for free-That's not your cue to speak! Anyway, I can easily perform this task you request of me. For a small fee, of course."

"How small?" I asked.

"Not that small," replied the Wishmaker. "In fact, it would probably something big. Huge to you, in fact. Something you believe you couldn't live without."

"Err...how about...my voice?" What is idle prattle for, anyway?

"Your voice?" he mused. "Well, what could I possibly do with your voice?"

"Well, you could, um...pretend like...I would be talking, but it's really you?"

Abraxas just stared, with a largely unamused look on his face. "That would be of no use to me whatsoever. You must think of a way for both of us to gain something from this, not just you! Selfish Chaotic..."

"How about, then...my soul?"

He stared at me, a peculiar look in his eyes. He then burst into a harsh laughter.

"OooaaAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! OHOHOHOHOH! Ah-ahem, hem. Ah-aHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Oh ho ho hooo! SOUL?! SOUL?! AHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! OOOOHOOOOOWEE! AHAH- ahem! AHUM-HUM-HMPH...AHAHAHA-hem. You mean to tell me...that you're willing to sell me your soul over this?"

"Yep."

"You do know what selling your soul means, right?"

"Of course."

"There's one problem, though."

"What's that?"

He sighed. "Demons don't have souls."

"Oh," I felt dejected. What else was there to give? "Come on! There's got to be something I have that I can give you! Just name it!"

He stroked his goatee, pondering. He then snapped his fingers with a small "Ah-hah!"

"How about this...you agree to bind yourself to me. By this, I mean that if you happen to die in the Material Plane...your soul goes right back to me. And, of course, you will live an afterlife of eternal slavery." He chuckled.

"Sure."

He blinked a few times, as if trying to process what he was hearing. "You're...really agreeing to that?"

"Yep."

Abraxas let out a heavy exhalation, with a slight laugh mixed in. I could have sworn I heard something that sounded like "Idiot."

But the conniving devil quickly perked up. "Alright!" he announced. "Do you, whatever your name is, agree to forge a pact with me, Abraxas the Wishmaker, that will send your very essence to the Prime Material Plane, with death punished by eternal service under me?"

"I agree!" I shouted without hesitation. I was getting very excited to leave this place. So excited, in fact, that I was barely paying attention to what Abraxas was saying.

He cackled menacingly. "Then let us seal the pact!" he shrieked in a somewhat crazed voice. He lifted his skull/cup. "Let us drink!"

I looked down to my skullfull of dragon snot. It didn't look that tasty, to be honest. And just because I'm a demon doesn't mean I love everything grotesque, mind you. Quivering, I lifted it up to my lipless mouth.

The Wishmaker reared his head back, downing his drink. I did the same, deciding to get this over with. I shook in fear as the oily, black muck slid slowly toward my mouth. And it reached it.

I choked, gasping for air. I pounded my chest with my fist, attempting to purge the thick slime from my esophagus. But eventually...I stopped. I swallowed a few times, smacking my tongue.

And then I greedily drank the rest. Dang! The flavor comes off as sort of a shock at first, but the pungent aftertaste made it all worthwhile.

Abraxas cleared his throat. I looked up from my tongue-cleaning session with the skull. He gave me a light smile, then stared off into space.

"So, uh...what happens now?" I asked, slightly confused.

"The pact has been sealed," he answered simply.

"Really?" I marvelled. "No...flashy lights? No arcane symbols floating about the room? No creative yet nightmarish visuals?"

He chuckled darkly. "Sometimes, magic takes effect in a realm inconcievable by the naked eye."

"Well then," I muttered, picking out a cockroach from one of my nails. "Is anything happening right now?"

"It takes one minute for the spell to take effect."

I drummed my claws on the table, waiting. I began to sing the tune to I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Bloody Skulls, a traditional drinking song down in the Abyss. I traced the outline of my ribcage, sighing in impatience.

"Oh, wait!" I exclaimed suddenly. "Hold on, I might need something to read in the Material Plane. I'll be right ba-"

Out of nowhere, everything went black. I felt an extreme suction on my face, as if I were on a rollercoaster that was going backwards up a steep slope. At six thousand miles per hour. I tried to scream, but a horrible buzzing in my ear blocked out all noise. After a minute of struggling, or it may have been an hour, or a week, for all I know, I surrendered to this oblivion which had consumed me.

-:-

I awoke in a forest. Not a burning forest of trees that scream in agony, or a forest where the trees had tentacles, or a forest of zombie trees with killer muskrats. No, for the first time in my life, I awoke in a normal forest.

My eyes darted around. No shrieks of terror? No maniacal laughter? No angry gods of destruction roaring off in the distance? For once in my life, everything seemed so...quiet. So tranquil. And this forest...so beautiful! I sniffed with my sunken nose the beautiful flowers, which didn't try to spit acid in your eye. I felt the cool waters of a nearby river. I was surprised when no flying pirahnas leaped out of the water to chew my face off. Why, if I hadn't known, I'd have assumed I shifted to Heaven itself!

I gasped as I saw a butterfly flittering near me on delicate wings. Trembling, I held out a greasy claw to allow the beautiful creature to land on me. And it did! I smiled and let loose a burst of joyous laughter, which I think scared away a nearby family of bunnies. But no matter. With my free claw, I stroked the insect on its delicate wing.

My eyes widened in shock when the appendage crumbled into flaky particles. "On, no, no, no..." I stammered. The poor one-winged creature fell from my hand, falling to the ground in a twirling motion. "NOOOOOOO!" I shouted. "I'M SORRY! I-I DIDN'T MEAN...BAD KHAA! BAD KHAA! I'M NOT EVEN WORTHY TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE!" And with that, I sprinted away a failure, tears of blood streaming from my eyes.

"The one time you get to hold a butterfly that doesn't try to inject you with parasitic offspring...and you kill it! You..." I blinked a few times, getting a vague feeling that there was something...missing.

Right after that thought crossed my mind, I heard a large growl behind me. I spun around frantically, and saw a furry mass resting in between two trees. It was an unusually large wolf. It was about as big as a demonic rooster-whale, if the comparison helps. The beast rolled over, revealing its face in plain sight. It had a few bits of meat in its mouth, along with a strange wooden stick sticking from between two of its massive teeth...wait, that's Sophie! The creature was using Sophie as a toothpick!

"Um...hello?" I stammered. "You, um...you have something of mine."

The beast was busy at the moment in a deep slumber, no doubt having dreams about a horrible toothache. It whimpered slightly, swiping a paw at its gums.

It was then that I realized that I had to remove it. For the sake of the wolf, to end his suffering, for Sophie, to end her suffering, and me, so I could have a weapon to defend myself with. I pondered what would happen upon failure. I could have sworn I heard the sound of Abraxas chuckling in the back of my mind.

I slowly, cautiously approached the colossal canine. It let out a giant yawn, wincing at the pain in its gums caused by this. Determined, I trotted forward and wrapped my claws around my beloved Sophie. I began to pull on her gently.

The creature before me let out a growl. Blood poured down my face as I continued to gently tug on her.

Finally, after a minute or so of this, I let out one final yank. Sophie popped out from between the large carnivore's teeth, falling out of my hands and clanking to the ground. Before I could move a tailbone, its eyes shot open, and it let out a bloodcurling howl. Or at least I think it would be bloodcurling to mortals. Trust me, if you had rooster-whales shrieking you awake every morning, you wouldn't mind that too much, either.

It locked its eyes on me, growling and standing between me and my only true companion in the multiverse.

"Hi," I said.

Apparently, this meant "Your mother eats rhinoceros crap" in the wolf tongue, because the moment I said that, the creature swiped at me with one mighty paw.

"Aaaagh!" I screamed in pain and lurched backwards. Fearing for my afterlife, I dashed off, with the angered beast in hot pursuit. I panted as I ran, pushing bushes and plants out of my way, chased by an angry primeval canine. But sooner or later, I realized this wasn't going to work out. I was trapped in an endless forest, with no refuge or sanctuary, so what was the point of running? I already began to tire out, and my pursuer showed no signs of slowing. So I decided to use my last resort.

Reason.

Preparing a lecture in the back of my mind, I spun on my heel when we reached a grassy clearing. "STOP!" I shouted at the top of my lack of lungs, baring my teeth, which dripped with oil, and baring my claws in a threatening manner. I wasn't planning to attack it, of course. I only wanted to intimidate the poor thing.

Surprisingly, it obeyed. It stopped in its tracks, closing its mouth and cowering before me, staring upwards as if I were an abusive mortal master. The giant wolf began to back away slowly. I growled at it.

"What do you have to say for yourself?!" I snapped loudly. It winced when I said this, then suddenly turned around and scampered off, tail between its legs. I heard a whining noise in the distance.

I chuckled in satisfaction, but was still a bit confused that it ran off without answering my question. But I'm not complaining, of course. I guess I must be very persuasive if I convinced it not to assault me with just a few words.