This is a story scorched in burn marks on the roof timbers of a hidden room . . .
The Pilgrim Woman came out of the sea at night. She left a trail of salt across The Garret then she lit a candle in the window. After drying her hair, she found there were listeners. She took down a demon mask from the wall, and told them this tale through its lips:
It was a time of art, a time of imbalance, a time when the demon world knew madness. Whatever made Him so deranged, He wasn’t sharing it with us – directly.
Designs came down from the Bronze Throne: new devils with biting heads at the end of their tails; imps with six tiny bat wings; affrits with toothed tongues the length of serpents.
Those were fine days for grotesquerie, I’ll grant you. And the colours and the reeks! Ah, now they were something. Greens sharp enough to make you spit bile. Yellows in every shade of sickness. Arctic blues to make warm hearts shiver and shrink. The reds and oranges! Such anger and spite and slowburning vengeance. Not to mention sulphur and rot and cloying perfumes to pleasure your nose. The mortals didn’t like any of them at all. So gratifying to see their faces turn almost as delightful as our own.
The trouble was the artists. They liked our inventions – took them and even added a few of their own. I ask you. We hadn’t got around to IP in those days, but we’d have had a ball with that. With all their carvings and paintings, you could hardly tell what was demonic and what was supposed to frighten us away. Hmph. Atropropaic gargoyles and hunkypunks everywhere – tricky to tell friend from foe. That couldn’t be allowed to last.
It was Eric in Accounts who came up with the idea. You know Eric: vast, neat, always busy with his thousand-and-one eyes and inexhaustible memory.
If they, the artists and creators, Hell rot them, come up with such imaginative versions of us, why not change?. Why not be something they’d never notice or recognise? Or want to.
And he was right. First we trialled unremarkable colours. It went quite well. Then we discontinued the double heads, cloven feet and barbed tails.
We wore suits and business dress just like them. Though rather better. Stylish. We excelled at following certain orders through. Himself on the Bronze Throne recovered and we became the apex predators again.
The Pilgrim Woman took off the mask and hung it back up to guard the hearth and the listeners around it.