A few years ago I worked for Blizzard and we had an internal contest. I wrote this story but I didn’t win. I think it still holds up. So here it is, Chispa.
Many months ago I was scavenging, for lack of a better term, the inside of our house’s toolshed for some items that I haven’t the foggiest what they were now. As I rummaged deep in the old building, I found it overrun with termites. This prompted me to fumigate and inspect what they had damaged.
Moving boxes and other paraphernalia I discovered some old, maybe 15-year-old, notebooks and journals. Inspecting their content I found some old notes by my dear Uncle William, God rest his soul. These notes, dusty and damaged by moisture and the years, looked to be a story. There was a name attached, a Deckard Cain.
Ignoring the name, I skimmed over the notes. They were full of pain, demons, and suffering. Getting excited about this find, I took all the notes, chucked all other the stuff back into the toolshed and ran back to my room.
Closing the door behind me, I put the notes, journals, and a bottle of chocolate milk on the desk, ready to pour over this amazing story.
“–full of hate. Full of death.”
Strange, apparently the beginning was lost, the story started on that line. No matter, there was enough to continue reading.
The screams of pain and suffering from the Damned chorused a macabre harmony. The air was thick with the lamentations of lost hope and the cursed existence the inhabitants of the Burning Hells called home.
From afar, an angel watched over from the Pandemonium Fortress. The fair creature smirked. “Hell is too little punishment for the fallen souls,” it appeared to say.
I continued my grim walk, hood covering my visage from the demons. I was persona non grata, and death would be the price for my coming here. My blood ran cold; it’s always chilling for me to be in the Outer Steppes. Fighting every urge, I continued walking. I had to be there. I had to see it punished.
Its shrill shrieking, like nails pushed into ears, led me to my goal. Walking around a huge boulder, I found it.
There was a small mound, red like everything in this hellish place. On it, a procedure was taking place. A brute demon, fat and hateful, stood on it. Its armour, if you can call a helm and some shoulder-guards that, was blunt and devoid of any lustre. Its barbed whip flew from its hand, a whistle and crack singing in a beautifully eerie tone. The Overseer smiled gleefully, all whippings were fun, but this one was exhilarating.
On the other side of the whip, a red, small imp twitched in pain. Its ebony horns shone, shaped like a half moon in the night sky. The imp grimaced in pain. It was propped hanging, held by the arms and dangling like meat from the butchers. Its cheeks shimmered, tears fell.
“Pity!” cried the imp. “Forgiveness for Chispa!”
The Overseer laughed, deep and devoid of mirth.
“Forgiveness? This is hell!” The whip cracked again, rendering flesh from body.
The imp squirmed, gasping for breath and respite. It was in unbearable pain, but resting made the wounds hurt more.
“Chispa,” stated the Overseer, “you are accused of treason.”
“L-lies!” the crimson demon said. “Chispa has d-done what all hell-born do. C-chispa has t-taken souls. C-chispa has killed mortals. Chis–”
“Chispa is deluded,” said the fat one. “Since your creation you’ve done one stupid thing after another. Now the mortals mock us.” The Overseer whipped again. The imp cried.
It was a heartbreaking sight, the poor imp twitched in pain. It was the reason I had come, but my stone heart grew soft. I thought of helping, but knew better than to approach the event.
“As all judgements go,” started the Overseer, “we will commence from your inception, and see where everything went wrong with you, Chispa.”
“Chispa’s b-birth?” the imp gasped. “Chispa’s birth was uneventful, like any other.”
And the demon named Chispa spoke of its birth. Long ago a young wizard decided it was ready to summon a demonic companion, as they are wont to do. The wizard had made all preparations, recited all spells, and burned all offerings. A demon appeared, croaky voice and bent knee in servitude. The wizard was pleased.
The wizard was dead. The imp had killed him, like they are wont to do. Before killing him, the “servant” had opened the wizard, removed kidneys and liver and made homunculi. They grew, becoming imps themselves. From this batch Chispa was created.
The newly born imps ran across the village, causing mischief and mayhem. Their favourite victims were the shepherds and the merchants. The imps shaved the sheep, killed crops, possessed vendors to insult buyers, and just made a mess of the place.
The villagers had grown tired of the demonic infestation, and decided to round them up and kill them once and for all. The priests carried their holy books, reciting passages to drive the demons out. The men carried farm tools, and any imp found was beaten to death. It was a horrible confrontation.
“Chispa was one of the last survivors of the hunt,” the imp recounted. “And Chispa almost died if not for a deal Chispa made.”
“Yes, that deal,” said the Overseer, snidely. “Your first transgression.”
Chispa continued its tale of how it ran for its life. It hid inside a barn and submerged itself in the bovine’s dung. No one was supposed to find it hidden there. It stayed there for hours. The cows were restless and backed away from the demonically possessed manure.
Then Chispa heard a creaking of wood. The imp watched to see if someone was looking for it.
The barn door opened and a young boy carrying a shovel entered. His hair was the colour of copper, a dull reddish-brown. The youth had a pegleg, and he limped as he moved closer to the dung pile. He entered because he had heard the cows, he also searched for the imp. Chispa trembled.
“Come out, Demon!” screamed the boy as he banged the shovel on the columns. “I know you hide here!”
Chispa didn’t dare come out. It had seen what the mortals had done to its brethren. Chispa did not want to join them.
“I said to come out!” the copper-headed boy shouted. “I’m not here to play games, but to barter”
Chispa’s ears pricked at the word. Demons liked to barter. Slowly the red imp emerged from the dung pile, eyes opened wide in excitement.
“Mortal! You’ve beckoned me to open barter?” Chispa smirked as it said that to the boy. “Chispa hopes you are as courageous as you are foolish, daring a dem…” The imp’s spiel was suddenly put to a halt by the boy’s shovel across its face.
“Silence, demon,” spat the youth. “I’m the one offering you a deal, not the other way around.”
Chispa moaned in pain, it never expected to be smacked by the blunt instrument. It was unbearable. The boy walked closer to it and grabbed a horn. He lifted Chispa to his eye level. The imp whimpered.
“Listen good, demon,” started the boy. “I could easily turn you in to the villagers and you can rot back to the filth you came from. Or, you can work for me, and do all I say. But none of the demonic betrayal you are prone to do.”
The boy flung the demon toward a wall. Chispa wailed.
“So, demon. Do we have a deal?” The boy walked toward the imp and kneeled in front of it. “Your life or your servitude?”
“Chispa will serve you well, Master.” The demon bowed deep, wincing.
“Good,” said the boy, and smacked the imp again with the shovel.
Outside, voices called for someone. The copper-haired boy looked out the door, annoyance settled on his face. Chispa raised its head and noticed the look on the boy’s face. Quickly the boy turned. Chispa lowered its head again. Using the shovel sharply, the youth pushed the imp away.
“Go away now, I can’t have these idiots finding you and ruining everything.”
The imp hurried and hid inside a haystack. The barn door opened and an old man with a grey beard looked in. Seeing the boy, he smiled.
“There you are,” said the old man as he entered. “We’ve been looking for you, Wirt.”
“Just thought I heard something inside here.” Wirt said, fake empathy in his voice. He lightly pushed the old man, and both walked out of the barn. “But there was NOTHING there.”
“Yes, yes.” The old man’s voice was far and muted now. “But we can’t be too careful.”
“I was thorough,” the boy named Wirt said and then nothing else was heard.
The Overseer stood in front of Chispa now, hate on his face. The imp tried to shrink away from the rotund demon’s fury.
“And that was your deal?” It grabbed one of Chispa’s horns, “That! Was! Pitiful!” The Overseer shouted, whipping once more. The imp screamed in pain as its black blood flew from its wounds.
“Y-yes,” Chispa whispered, “pitiful. But Chispa atoned itself. Chispa did more things to humans. And Chispa got revenge on the mortal Wirt.”
“Silence!” The Overseer whipped hard, the barbs rendered flesh. The imp wept.
“A-at least let Chispa speak about the cows,” the imp whimpered. The fat demon whipped again.
“The cows were even worse than the ‘deal’ with the human.” The Overseer sighed. “But this judgement will allow the mention of the bovines,” it said with disgust, emphasising the last word.
Chispa told the Overseer, and unknowingly to me, how it had served under the peg-legged boy named Wirt. The copper-headed youth was very shrewd in his dealing with all around him. He acted cold to everyone, and mistreated the imp severely; beatings, whippings, shovels to the face, insults, attempts at its life; the boy had done all to torture the little demon.
Now, I had heard of the boy, how he had survived the Fallen Ones’ torture with only the loss of his left leg. Wirt had always shown a bit of what you could call respect towards me. Hearing the imp describing these things it had had to go through shone a new light on the boy. I felt a deep sense of disgust, not because I felt any sympathy for Chispa, but because I couldn’t comprehend how someone could be this way, and the complete lack of humanity the boy had.
As I thought all this, I had completely missed more of the imp’s tale. Ignoring the thoughts I had on my mind, I continued listening to Chispa’s story.
The demonic imp told of how in its moments of inactivity and servitude it decided to entertain itself by possessing cows to scare the milkmaids.
“Chispa used to climb inside the bovines and wait until any of the mortal females would come to milk them,” the imp retold. “Then, when they came over and sat, hands close to the udder, Chispa screamed. The howl made by the bovine was muddled by the screaming of the females.” Chispa laughed loudly. It was a strange sound, like pebbles falling over roofs. The Overseer chuckled, it too found this amusing. “But Chispa’s masterwork was the Bovine Dimension. Chispa had much fun there making life unbearable for the mortals.”
The imp told of how it had found a book. As it flipped through it, it found a page on creating portals to other dimensions. Finding the ingredients to make this extra dimensional doorway, the imp created a place separate but within the village. Then it decided to populate it with cows, hundreds and hundreds, to make the place look like a real locale.
I did remember that cows had started disappearing and the villagers did not know what to make of it. Now it all became clear. It was the imp’s fault. Even O’Leary’s prized cow, winner of many awards, had disappeared, spirited away by what I now knew was Chispa’s cause.
After months of demonic work, the imp’s Bovine Dimension was finally complete.
“Chispa then started hinting of this secret place where gold was to be found.” Chispa looked wistful at the memory of its kingdom. “It was a machination worthy of the Lords of Evil themselves. Chispa would walk as a mortal male, telling of a place full of bovines that guarded a treasure. The others would listen and try to find more of this place. Sometimes Chispa took another form and said there was no Cow Dimension. The denial would whet their greed. The mortals searched everywhere for this treasure hideout.”
I remembered this. Men had gone crazy with avarice as they searched for this fantastical place where cows walked on their hind quarters guarding gold. Many men disappeared, never to be found, or seen, again. So the imp was behind this fanciful dimension.
“So many mortal males died by Chispa’s hand,” it gloated, “when they found the place. They screamed, and pleaded, but Chispa was proud. Same as Chispa suffered under Wirt, the mortals would suffer under Chispa.” The imp laughed, the sound of falling pebbles filled the air.
It was incredible. This little imp that I had started to feel sympathy for was like all other demons, full of hate and trickery. Its mouth opened wide, remembering and savouring the poor men’s suffering. Then the Overseer whipped it again.
“This is your judgement,” said the demon, “not the time to gloat!”
“Forgive Chispa,” it cried.
The imp continued. One day Wirt called Chispa to ask it about this place that the other men were talking about. The boy wanted to find this Bovine Dimension and take all the gold for himself. Because the youth couldn’t find how to get there, he thought that a demon could easily find it. Chispa said it would help its master find this place.
Night had fallen when Wirt and Chispa began their search. The imp hid how it felt; it would finally have revenge on the peg-legged, pigheaded boy. Chispa led the way, using its “magic” to see any possible entrance to the Cow Dimension. It was a quiet walk except for the sound of the wooden pegleg against the ground. They climbed a hill that lead to a clearing.
“It is close,” said the imp. “Chispa can feel it.”
Wirt’s eyes shone bright with greed. The others were fools, he thought. They could never find this place without the help of a demon, and all the treasures would belong to him and him alone.
“What’s the matter, you filth?” Wirt said to the imp. It pointed straight at the centre of the clearing.
“It is here, but Chispa cannot enter. There is strong magic.” The imp stepped back. “Only humans can enter.”
“It’s there?” asked Wirt. The imp nodded, stepping back again. “Finally. Finally I can have enough gold to leave this place!”
The boy ran as best as he could, limping all the way until he disappeared into the other dimension. Inside Wirt found cows, hundreds of them walking around on their hind quarters. The cows stared at the boy as he walked to the centre.
There Wirt found the weirdest thing in this strange dimension. It sat regally, a cow of dignity and statute. It looked down on the boy. It was O’Leary’s cow.
“Boy,” the cow smiled. “This is a secret place of cows. No humans are welcomed.”
“I’m here for your treasure,” said Wirt. “I found it and will take it even if I have to kill you all.”
“Such foolishness,” the cow mooed. “Guards, rid him from my sight.”
A few cows walked close to the boy, grabbing him with their hooves. Wirt fought.
“Let go, you filthy animals!” he shouted. “How dare you touch me!”
The Cow King stood and walked toward Wirt. The boy stared back with disgust and hate.
“What in the Burning Hells are you looking at?” he spat at O’Leary’s cow. The cow only smiled.
“I’ll enjoy this greatly,” the majestic bovine said. Wirt raised an eyebrow, the voice was familiar. “Oh, you recognise the voice?” The cow’s voice was higher now. Wirt tried to think why it was so recognisable. Then it came to him. “Something wrong, Master?”
“Chispa?” Wirt was surprised, which was new for him. “You bastard! What are you doing? Let me go! I am your master!”
“No, mortal.” The cow now spoke clearly in Chispa’s voice. “Now it is Chispa who is master! And first of all,” Chispa said. “You shall die!”
Another of the heifers stood beside the Chispa-possessed Cow King and gave it a shovel.
“Chispa sees it’s fitting that Chispa ends Chispa’s servitude the same way you mortal found Chispa,” Wirt’s eyes opened wide. “With a shovel to the face.”
The cow swung the dull farming tool, and smacked the boy across the face. Wirt screamed in pain loudly. Teeth flew from his mouth. O’Leary’s cow swung again. The boy’s nose was now shattered. More and more the Cow King swung, smacking Wirt’s face.
Chispa laughed hard. It finally had its revenge against the boy. It kept swinging the shovel at the boy’s face–
Where’s the rest of the story? It can’t end like this! I ran back to the shed, and slammed the door open. I didn’t care that it was midnight; I had to know how it ended. I searched fruitlessly, moving boxes and throwing them outside.
The hours passed, and the only thing I found was dead termites and dust. It was disheartening. I wondered aloud why my dear Uncle William hadn’t finished collecting the rest of Deckard Cain’s story.
Suddenly, I felt some light tapping on my shoulder. I turned thinking it would be my parents.
A red imp, half my height and lanky, stood there. Horns like obsidian rested on its sharp head. A crooked smile filled its face.
“You want to know how it ends?” The demon asked, its voice a high pitched shrill.
Then the imp grabbed my wrists. Its hands were like cold iron. I couldn’t move. The imp was remarkably strong.
Realizing who it was, the blood drained from my face. The imp laughed, its laughter still haunt me as I’m tortured by its brethren. Its curse-stained name bled from my lips, damning it for interfering with my family.
I screamed again, as the barbs of the Overseer’s whip burrowed deep in my flesh. Damn the bastard!
“Chispa!” And only the hellish laughter replied.