Once upon a time, there lived a man and his wife. The man was a respectable farmer, poor but honest, and a decent, hardworking sort. His wife, of course, was a foul-tempered nag of a woman, who was convinced that the Gods (whose names are not to be spoken) had obviously intended her to have a much better life than this. Of course, such is the nature of Gods that mortals are not to know their purposes. Regardless of this, she loved her man, in her own foul-tempered nagging way, as this farmer loved her in his honest and decent way. They had not yet bore children, mainly because the wife insisted they were too poor to support them. But that is neither here nor there, so let us move on.

So, one day, when the man was happily working his fields, and his wife was making her best vegetable stew, a Demon came along. This was no mere Imp, but a true Demon, with glittering red scales, massive bat wings, a long sinuous forked tail, and yellowed horns atop his fiendish head. The Demon, leaving burning footprints behind him, walked up to the man's cottage and actually, in a behavior that would have surprised many esteemed scholars of Demons, Gods, and Other Worlds, knocked politely on the cottage door. The woman opened the door, grumbling in her fashion about how the stew would never be ready in time, how her husband was too cheerful for her tastes, how it was too hot outside, and a thousand other things she felt it was necessary to grumble about.

The Demon looked down at her, and said in a coarse voice, "Woman, is this the dwelling in which you live?" She grumbled, "Well, what a fine way to say hello. Some manners you have!" The Demon growled, "I said…" He never finished, because the woman, at that point, shut the door and went to check on the stew. The Demon then did something else that would have astonished those esteemed scholars even more; he took a deep breath and counted to one hundred, and then knocked again. The door opened, and the woman again appeared. She exclaimed, "You again? Are you trying to sell me something?" The Demon was obviously confused by this statement, but the woman didn't notice. She launched into a tirade about how traveling merchants are who come up to people's doors are most unwanted, and…the Demon himself closed the cottage door in her face. He then, in an action that would not have surprised the esteemed scholars, used his demonic power to incinerate a nearby pine tree, along with its resident squirrel.

The woman then opened the door again, "Well, at least you're good for something! I've been telling my hubby to clear that tree out of our yard for months!" The Demon, despite his confusion over the woman's response to the exercising of his demonic flame, was pleased; he now had an answer to his question. So he asked another, "May I enter your dwelling? I have…" "No, "interrupted the woman, "because you're filthy, and you would ruin the new slat floor." That being said, she re-entered the house, concerned for the fate of the vegetable stew. This obviously angered the Demon, and so he blew flames out of his nose, scorching the grass in front of him. Shaking his horned head, he knocked once again on the door. The woman opened up, and snapped rather rudely, "No, you can't come in with your dirtiness! Go change into something respectable!" As she closed the door, the Demon roared and burst into flames. For being thrice refused, he would be banished the one to the Other Worlds which he called home. Such was the nature of the Demon.

Hours later, the man came home and noticed the pine tree (or lack thereof) and the scorched grass. As he walked in, his wife walked up, grumbling about ruined soup. He then innocently asked, "Well, how did soup get ruined, my dear?" She snapped, "Some stranger came banging on our door, dressed in a dirty red costume, asking rude questions. The only good thing that he did was get rid of that tree out there by burning it down somehow!" The husband, knowing better than to interrupt his wife's tirade, wisely just said nothing.

Such is the manner in which the purposes of the Gods are fulfilled, not in noble deeds or by great and wealthy men, but in mundane and subtle ways.


Author's Note: This is one of the few of my older pieces of work I still feel good about, looking back at it. Sure, it's really short, and the main point is a little obscure, but it's not bad by any means. It is definitely different from my current style, and all in all it was a fun experiment, although I doubt I'd do something like this again.

Enjoy!