[I don't see you demon… are you going to show yourself or - HOLYGIZZADIGUP!]
Even as I ask for the creature to show itself, it seems to blink into existence on the edge of my vision, shocking me with both its sudden appearance, and bizarre form. A giant eyeball wreathed in fiery tentacles that appear almost more like tongues of flame than appendages of flesh stares down at me like a watchful sun.
[I did not mean to shock you,] the voice in my mind says, [I have been here some time, but have hidden my presence by erasing it from your mind up to this point.]
[Isn't that a bit rude?] I challenge the demon to help cover my unease at having my mind invaded so easily. [You can't go around just diving into people's minds willy-nilly! How the heck did you even do it?!]
My guard is up. Way up. This demon is clearly powerful, a tier seven, much like the huge brute who stomped away earlier. Its appearance is something like a cross between Invidia, Crinis and a bonfire, giving it a disturbing visage to say the least. Instead of the intense green of Invidia's own eyeball, this demon's eye is red, as in totally red. The iris is red, the pupil is a different shade of red, and the white? Let's just say it isn't all that white. Looking into this thing's eye is like looking into a fire in a fire in a fire in a fire.
[It is how I protect myself,] the demon doesn't seem perturbed by my attack, [being a physically weaker creature, I use my mental prowess to hide myself from the attention of those that would seek to do me harm.]
[Seems like it would also go a long way to making it rather easy to inflict harm,] I point out.
[That is also true,] it responds, unbothered.
The rest of my party has reacted to this sudden presence with a display of aggression. Tiny has snatched up the hatchling once more, putting his body between the newcomer and Brilliant, whilst Crinis has made herself known by threateningly extending some ghastly limbs from her resting place on my back. For his part, Invidia has continued to hover, threateningly, his eye blazing with envious light.
The demon floats in the air with no apparent effort, looking down on me as we continue our stand off for several long moments.
[Sooooo…] I try.
[Ah. I apologise, I was lost in thought.]
[Ah. I apologise, I was -]
[Lost in thought?! Again!? Can you please just let us know if you're going to try and eat us or what so we can either get to fighting or running away?! I'm getting antsy over here!]
The eye flickers at my sudden barrage and after a brief pause begins to explain itself.
[I have approached you for a very specific reason,] it starts, [I have spoken to you in the hopes that you will slake my hunger.]
[KILL!] I bellow and prepare to leap into action.
The eye blinks in surprise before vanishing right before my eyes, causing my heroic dashing leap to end with me planting my face into a wall, knocking the already damaged side of the building in completely. That slippery corona-demon! Where the heck did it go?! I frantically try to sever the connection it has with my mind, but find my efforts are fended off as the creature smothers my attempts.
[I should be clear,] the voice rings out again, [that I hunger not for your flesh, but for knowledge.]
As it pronounces that word, I can almost hear the ravenous hunger boiling away beneath that seemingly calm and patient manner of speaking. I pick myself out of the rubble and turn around to find the demon has once more appeared, hovering in the air in exactly the same place as before.
[You hunger… for knowledge? What kind of demon wants to turn itself into a encyclopedia? That doesn't seem to be how you guys operate, from what I've seen so far…]
[Oh… Uh. Like a book filled with huge amounts of information organised so that it can be easy to find.]
With a blaze of energy, the eye ignites, the flare of heat drying my eyes in a split-second.
The fire subsides quickly, and the demon appears as before, hovering calmly above us.
[I apologise,] the voice is once again contained and unruffled, [I have never heard of this concept before. I find it… delicious.]
This is seriously weirding me out.
[So… if you don't mind me asking… what sort of demon are you? One that craves knowledge over Biomass? I just don't think I've ever heard of that.]
[I do not mind. It is important that you understand my nature if we are to complete our transaction. I am an Avarice demon, but one of a particular nature. Avarice demons d.e.s.i.r.e to take and hold that which belongs to others, to accrue vast wealth. But the form of that wealth may change from demon to demon. There are some who hoard precious jewels and minerals, such that the humans and those like them are ignited with greed. Others seek to amass slaves, controlling the life and fate of many others.]
The giant eye hovers for a moment.
[That is apt,] it concludes. [This is a fundamental aspect of demonic nature that I sense you may not be aware of. All demons are driven by some manner of obsession. The more highly evolved a demon is, the more refined that obsession has become.]
There's something interesting about the way it framed that…
[So is it evolving that refines the obsession, or is it refining the obsession that leads to evolving?]
Is there some element of the demonic monster archetype that is fundamentally different from other monsters? From what I understand, that's not the case, I certainly haven't seen anything like that when examining Invidia, for example.
[The one plays into the other,] the demon responds. [But you have asked an interesting question, one with a lengthy answer. Now we come to the nature of my request. I have seen that you are new to Roklu, new to this stratum and have many questions, questions that I can answer. In return, you have knowledge, information that I wish to possess. I propose a trade.]
[Since you managed to barge into my mind uninvited, couldn't you just take what you want? Why go through the bother?]
I'm not sure I trust this fire-eye.
[Information extracted in this way is incomplete and fragmented. Unsatisfactory. I hunger for the whole meal, not a collection of scattered morsels.]
[So… let me get this straight. You're offering to be a … guide?]
The eye blazes bright once more.
[What is this… guide?]
[Holy smokes! It's a person that shows other people around, gives them key information about the place they are in! Chill out a little!]
[Interesting. Yes. I propose that I shall be your guide. In return, you shall give me the answers that I seek. I view this as an even trade. Do you accept?]
I mean… I don't really see much of a downside… As much as I dislike having a demon as strong as this one following us around, I don't think that we couldn't take it on if we worked together, provided we can find a way to counter it's ability to vanish from our mind's eye. On the other hand, we stand to gain a lot.
[I guess we have a deal.]
In response to my words, the eye smoulders with barely suppressed hunger.