The Path of Pride

Contains: accelerated and instant weight gain, muscle growth, direct encouraging.

I was planning to post this on Halloween, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do so until late. So instead, I’m posting it tonight, so you can more easily read it tomorrow!

The idea for this story came by way of a reader named Luke. When I was doing the four-year anniversary survey, he contacted me to say he had an idea for a story, but it was longer than he felt was appropriate for the survey’s wildcard box. With my blessing, he sent me the idea. I was so immediately taken by it that I had to write it.

And so, with barely a week until the survey closed and I would feel compelled to start writing the story it would result in, I started writing it. I figured, maybe if I wrote enough before the survey closed, I could finish it in time for Halloween.

But something funny happened: I finished it before the survey closed. The idea had so thoroughly inspired me that I was able to write all of this in just five days, and proofread it the next day. The end result is a story I’m immensely proud of, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to life.

Synopsis: Beelcifus is a demon of pride, summoned by mortals so they can beg him to fulfill their prideful desires. But he’s thrown for a loop when he’s summoned by a group of men who want his help to bulk up, so they can become muscular. After one successful session, they ask him to join them in their bulking, to inspire them to eat more. Unable to resist the chance to show off, Beelcifus does, only to find himself getting fatter each time…

The candles around the pentagram on the floor burned faintly as a half-dozen nude men sat around it. They all had slender figures, which were now bare and on display. They sat with both legs bent and the front of their calves on the ground, looking at each other with a nervousness no one would dare admit.

Except for one. “So we’re really going to do this?”

“You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t sure you wanted to go through with this. Now, like we rehearsed.”

At the leader’s cue, they all closed their eyes and chanted the forbidden words. They kept chanting in unison, not a one daring to peek, except the unsure one. The sound of a rumble made him raise his eyebrows, but he kept his eyes closed through it. It was the cold wind that made him open his eyes, just in time to see the candles flicker and watch one get knocked into the circle.

But the flame didn’t stay on the wick. It spread across the circle around the pentagram, as if the chalk had caught on fire. At that, the unsure one closed his eyes again and rejoined the chanting. He didn’t want to be caught messing up the ritual, especially when the demon actually showed up. The sounds of the fire spreading across their circle tempted him to open his eyes again, but he squeezed them shut. Even the heat of the fire would not break him.

It was when he felt himself flung back from the circle and landed on his back that his eyes shot open.

“You dare summon me, mortals?”

Many demons bellowed when they were summoned, but Beelcifus was too proud to raise his voice for mere mortals. He was a demon; he knew that was all he needed to instill fear in the hearts of those who served him and those who wronged him alike. And this group of pathetic men was no exception, as they all stared in fear.

Only the leader could speak in spite of his fear. “Oh great Beelcifus, we have summoned you because we desire that which you have: a body of perfection, flawless in its form, strong and imposing.”

“Fools,” Beelcifus shouted as he turned to face the one who’d spoken. As soon as the man saw the demon’s form head on, he was properly frightened just like all the rest.

Beelcifus stood twice as tall as the men who’d summoned him. He had the approximate form of a human, with two arms and two legs attached to a torso, all chiseled with muscle that would have made a bodybuilder weep and a strongman cower, and topped off by a head with a human-like face. But that was where the similarities ended. His brawny arms and legs were both topped off with clawed extremities, handlike on top and talon-like on the bottom. His eyes shone with a fiery light as he beheld the mortal’s who’d summoned him. Two horns stuck out above those eyes, curling outward from his forehead before curling up again. His skin was a dark color that contrasted with the flames that surrounded him as he stood in the pentagram, taking on a purple sheen in the orangish light. And on either side of him extended wings that could have swiped any of those puny men aside.

“We know we are foolish, Beelcifus. That is why we prostrate ourselves to you,” the man said before he scrambled up and bowed to the demon. The other men quickly followed suit.

“On your feet, pathetic mortals,” Beelcifus commanded, before he raised his hands. The men were all lifted telekinetically by their necks until they all hung around Beelcifus, like the slender branches of a willow tree. They squirmed and writhed, trying in vain to breathe, before Beelcifus lowered them to stand on the ground. Coughing and hacking, they held their necks as they bent over and caught their breath.

“You insult me with your cowardice and diffidence. You dare to ask for the form of a stronger man, when you are too meek to carry it. You have wasted your time.”

“Please, Beelcifus,” the chatty one pleaded as he clasped his hands together. “How can we become worthy of your blessing? We shall do anything you demand.”

“You have learned nothing,” Beelcifus growled before he swiped a finger up in the man’s directions. His hands were immediately separated and flew up. “Your impudence will have its consequences.”

The others could only watch as the man’s thin frame became even thinner. The shape of his bones started to show through his skin as it drew more tightly over them. Soon he took the form of one whose body had not known proper nourishment in ages. His gaunt face took on an expression of horror as he looked back at the demon.

“Now you have the body your are worthy of.”

“Please, great Beelcifus,” another man said. “We have tried for years to attain a body like yours. We lift and lift and lift and our bodies barely grow. We deserve some progress after all that!”

The man’s gumption made Beelcifus turn his head with a smirk. He slowly walked toward the man and said, “That’s more like it. Now, what are you willing to do to earn that progress?”

“Anyth–” before the chatty one could finish talking, another one next to him covered his mouth, demonstrating more sense than his friend.

“We know we’re putting in the work, but we can’t eat enough to build the muscle. Please, help us bulk.”

“Bulk? Have you fools summoned a demon of pride for a demon of gluttony’s purpose?”

“We know what we did,” the confident one said, seeming to have caught on to the demon’s ways. “We don’t seek excess for its own sake. We want bodies we can be proud of.”

The demon’s glare didn’t shake the confident one, and he was appeased. “Very well. I shall bestow upon you a decadent feast. You shall eat until you lie senseless on the ground, your distended bellies a mockery of the body you wanted. And then, when you wake, you shall have the strength you’ve dreamed of.”

As Beelcifus looked around at the eager men, he smirked at their enthusiasm. He never tired of making mortals put on a show for him to earn what they wanted, and this one would be particularly entertaining. With a snap of his fingers, a table appeared behind the confident one. It was just below the heights of their chests, allowing them to stand as they ate and move around the table, so as to sample the whole meal. Another snap conjured enough food to leave almost no space on the table uncovered. It was like a Thanksgiving spread, but with no place settings and no attention paid to presentation. Just trays and trays stacked high with food for the men to eat.

“Don’t disappoint me,” Beelcifus warned them.

Whether the men heard the demon’s words was left a mystery, as they quickly rushed to the table to start filling their bellies. The enthusiasm of getting the bodies they’d wanted for so long drove them to the table’s sides, but once they took a bite, there was a change in their dispositions. No longer in an urgent rush meet the demon’s demands in exchange for a muscular form like his, the men ate more slowly, deliberately, and vocally. “Mmm”s and lip smacks emanated from around the table, and the men savored their big bites rather than trying to rush through them as quickly as possible.

The demon’s plan had worked perfectly. Just like he knew it would.

Beelcifus crossed his arms and watched with glee as the men made gluttonous fools of themselves. They stuffed the food in their mouths with their hands, whether it was finger food or not. Their hands and the areas around their mouths were all covered by the grimy remnants of their meal so far. Crumbs and morsels melded into an ostensibly edible mix that they would no doubt lick clean before the meal was over. They paid no mind to their cleanliness, or the bits of food falling on the ground.

Nor did they pay any mind to the bits of food falling on themselves once their abdomens started filling out. Thin as they were, the men looked like their stomachs were being filled with air, rounding out into near-perfect spheres. But the change in their postures, bent forward thanks to the burden of all the food they ate, made the true cause clear.

Yet it was not enough to make them stop eating. They groaned as they stuffed themselves fuller and fuller, enjoying the food too much to even think to stop eating. They ate the food as obediently as they’d been willing to follow the demon’s orders when he first arrived. He loved playing with mortals like this, demanding they show some pride before he broke them down again. Watching their slavish adherence to gluttony was all the tribute Beelcifus needed to grant them the gift they’d requested.

For the men did not disappoint. Once their bellies had swelled up to a spherical shape, they just kept eating. Soon they had eaten so much that they would have burst were it not for the demon’s influence. But thanks to his will, their stomachs remained unruptured, albeit swollen past the sides of their chests. With so little muscle to carry their weight, the men waddled around the table as they scarfed down more of the demon’s feast, filling their beach-ball-sized bellies more and more.

But they were slowing down. It was appropriately timed, as the platters Beelcifus had laid out for them were nearly emptied. The demon grinned as he watched the men struggle to move around the table, bumping their distended bellies against each other with a groan. Their arms floated at their sides as they leaned back to account for how front-heavy they’d become. But they still ate, determined to finish the feast and earn the demon’s favor.

And earn it they did, with the last of the men–the one the demon had shrunk before–finishing the last morsel of food on the table, before he stumbled back from the table and fell on the ground. All the men lay there, groaning as they rubbed their swollen guts, trying in vain to find some measure of relief. Beelcifus grinned widely as he snapped the table and all its contents out of existence. He did not, however, clean the crumbs and other mess off of the men, who would be left with it as a reminder of their dark deed.

All the mess adorning the men’s bodies was the cherry on top to how pathetic they looked as they lay on the ground, unable to move. Beelcifus chuckled as he watched them squirm in discomfort, their giant, rotund bellies jutting up above them like bubbles boiling. They rose and fell with the men’s labored breathing, but were steadfast in pinning them down. The men could do naught but lie back as food coma took them one by one.

As the last man fell asleep, Beelcifus quieted his chuckle and snapped his fingers one more time. Once he did, the men’s bellies shrunk like a balloon deflating. At the same time, the rest of their bodies swelled outward, their muscles pushing out enough to finally be seen. They weren’t quite as built as Beelcifus himself was, but they’d gotten their wish to look like they’d put some time in at the gym. As their stomachs finished shrinking, they finally revealed six sets of abdominals that Beelcifus was sure would please them.

With the transformation complete, Beelcifus drew the flames of the pentagram up around him and retracted his wings until he was completely surrounded. He then made his departure, disappearing from the mortal plane. The flames died down instantly, until only the charred remains of the pentagram flickered in the darkness.

Beelcifus felt himself pulled toward the mortal plane. As the fires of the demonic plane flickered toward where he was being summoned, he felt the forces coaxing him toward the source. With a smirk, he leapt off the ground and unfurled his wings, before he soared into the burning sky. He accelerated until his surroundings were all a blur, and soon he had torn through the ground into the mortal plane.

As he remained in the air, Beelcifus looked down upon those who had summoned him. It was the six men again, looking more muscular than they had previously, but still not as defined as his own form. They stood strong as he floated over them, looking up at him in reverence and awe.

“Oh great Beelcifus, we have summoned you to ask for your favor once again.”

“So you have,” he said quietly as he looked around at the men, who seemed eager to do his bidding again. “Tell me: what it is you hope I shall grant you?”

“Beelcifus,” the confident one addressed the demon, seeming the most befitting of his new form. “We are grateful for the gift of size you have given us. But we desire more. We want to make lesser men jealous.”

His sense of superiority endeared him to the demon, who enjoyed fostering such arrogance in mortals. It made them easier to manipulate. It was like a collar they wore proudly, and he was the one who held the leash. “Then you shall have your wish. But you know the cost that must be paid.”

“We are ready, oh great one.”

With a smirk, Beelcifus lifted his arm and snapped his fingers. Just like before, a grant table packed with food appeared behind the confident one. “You know what to do,” Beelcifus said in a low growl.

And they did. Without hesitation, the men rushed to the table’s side and started stuffing their greedy mouths again, eager to swell their stomachs for the demon’s delight. He crossed his arms, ready to settle in for another show.

But something strange happened. Once the men had eaten enough to replace their tight abdominals with a round, swollen midsection, the confident one turned away from the table and looked toward the pentagram. “Oh great Beelcifus, won’t you join us for this feast?”

Even with all the demon’s foresight, he had not anticipated a request like that from the men. “Join you? And deprive you of the food that will swell your bodies to the size you desire?”

“You could summon more so that there’s enough for you and us. And it would inspire us to eat more if we could watch you show us how it’s done.”

It was a curious proposition. On the one hand, Beelcifus felt that if these men were worthy of the bodies they desired, they would be able to earn them without any “inspiration”. On the other hand, the chance to inspire mortals to further humiliate themselves was a very tempting one. And in all his time tempting mortals to debase themselves for him, he’d never subjected himself to his own methods. Of course, he saw himself as above such things. But if mortals kept summoning him to do his bidding, then there must have been something to it. And if that was the case, then he deserved to be able to experience his own methods just as much as the mortals did.

The men watched as Beelcifus pondered, many with food still in their hands and mouths. They were utterly pitiful. If Beelcifus could influence them to make fools of themselves more than they already had, he wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to do so. With a smirk, he snapped his claws once again.

The table slowly lengthened in front of the men’s eyes. The dishes moved with the widening surface, resulting in some space showing up between them. Once the table had widened sufficiently, another snap filled it with food again. No space remained between the platters, and all the food the men had eaten was restored. But they weren’t starting over. Their rounded bellies, firm from their musculature but jutting out from the food inside, made that much clear.

“Is your appetite that grand, oh great one?”

Beelcifus chuckled as he stepped toward the table. “I shall partake of the meal as I see fit. You yourself said that my joining you would inspire you to eat more. As such, I have bestowed upon you an even greater bounty, to match your appetites, which will surely swell as I start eating. I expect all of this shall be consumed before the night is over.”

The men stared at Beelcifus with intimidated expressions. But soon they took up eating again, and any hesitation they might have had about their task vanished. Once again they ate like they were dying of hunger, just as eager to fill out their frames.

With the men all back to their task, Beelcifus looked upon them with amusement, before he looked down at the food. He understood the tastes of mortals enough to conjure food they would not be able to resist. But he didn’t understand it enough to choose a morsel for himself. After taking one of what was closest to him in his hands, the warm item soft and small between his fingers, he tossed it in his mouth whole and took a bite.

The demon’s eyes had no pupils or other shapes to indicate where he was looking. Just a fiery glow that cast fear in the hearts of every mortal who summoned him. But as he tasted the first bite of his own summoned food, the expression on his face was unmistakably one of someone staring into the distance at nothing in particular, too overwhelmed by another sense to utilize his sight. At that moment, that sense was taste.

The need for food was an alien concept for demons, as was the experience of ingesting it. It was a specifically mortal experience, and one the demon had never been envious of. It seemed so tedious, to spend so much of one’s time in pursuit of a source of nourishment that would just run out and need to be supplied again.

But in that moment, Beelcifus understood how humans could come together around such an experience. And though he knew another morsel of the same design would only elicit a similar taste, he desired to take another. So he did. And he did again.

As he started taking selections of two other dishes, one in each claw, he paused a moment. He remembered the way he’d intended that ritual to go. Had he not intended for the humans to demonstrate that they were beneath him? If he became consumed by gourmandism as much as the men were, he would have sunk to their level.

But if the mortals were worthy of such delicacies, why wasn’t he? So he decided he would instead demonstrate his superiority through restraint. While the humans gorged themselves senseless, he would carefully sample the selection, with restraint and consideration. And as he savored his meal, he could enjoy the spectacle around him.

Indeed, as enjoyable as it was to just watching the men devour the food like ravenous beasts, watching the spectacle with some food to eat was even more enjoyable. Beelcifus understood why humans often brought consumables with them to mindlessly snack on as they beheld spectacles of their own. For a moment, he wondered if the feast was more entertaining simply because the men were motivated to put on a better show as they relentlessly filled their stomachs. But as he watched the men around him, Beelcifus found that enjoying the food with them was indeed bringing him joy too.

But the mindfulness of his consumption did not last. As he was enraptured by the show the men put on, he paid less attention to the food he was eating, grabbing it without looking and tossing it in his mouth just as undiscerningly as they did. If anything, he’d become less conscious of his eating than the men were, for eating as much as possible was their primary focus. Beelcifus had no such concern for his intake, paying no mind to what he was eating except when his mouth was empty, and required another morsel to be satisfied.

So passed the rest of the meal, with the men putting on an impressive show. At the rate they were eating, Beelcifus was certain they would fill themselves more than they had last time. He wasn’t sure they’d eat all the food he’d put out. After all, his intention was to frustrate the men, to put out more food than they could possibly finish, even with the demon’s influence. He was certain they’d all lie defeated on the ground before the trays were empty.

And then a curious thing happened. The sounds of chewing were silenced, and the men all groaned instead, rubbing their distended bellies as they did. They’d put away enough food to satisfy the demon, with their globular protrusions wavering in front of them, a testament to how much they could eat. They certainly looked ready to fall to the ground again, rubbing their painfully swollen midsections as they fell asleep. But they’d stopped eating, much to the demon’s displeasure.

However, before he could chastise the men for their surrender, he looked down at the table, and his eyes opened wide at what they saw. There was no food left, the platters all picked clean, only some bones and skin left where whole roasts had once been. His eyes opened wider when he looked down further, and saw that the men had indeed taken on a body like his. But not because they’d grown more muscular.

Beneath the demon’s defined chest was something he’d never seen before: a belly of his own. Though he wasn’t quite as bloated as the men around him, his sudden awareness of how much he was leaning back made it very clear he’d grown significantly. His once imposing abs were now replaced by a belly swollen wide from all the food he’d eaten. It seemed his inhuman strength included the strength to eat without feeling painfully full.

Beelcifus hesitantly laid his hands on his stomach, hesitant to believe that joining the mortals for their feast had really transformed him in such a way. But when they met his firm midsection, it pushed back against their attempts to push in. His rough, leathery skin was stretched tight to hold in all the food, the pock marks and protrusions that were typical of a demon like him made flat by the tension. Only the light-colored cracks along the skin’s surface remained as a sign of his original form.

The changes to his body captivated Beelcifus so greatly that he didn’t notice the men all falling asleep around him. He was too perturbed by the ball that was now stuck to his form. It matched his chest in width, making it a far cry from the embarrassingly swollen stomachs of the mortals around him. But it was still incongruous with the rest of him. Though he found some fascination in observing the protrusion, he had no reservations about parting with it.

Once Beelcifus realized all the men had fallen asleep around him, swollen bellies in the air like giant balloons, he knew it was time to make his leave. With one snap, the table and the platters upon it disappeared. With another, all the men’s bellies shrunk again, causing their muscles to expand to impressive sizes. They all looked like men who competed in bodybuilding shows, when just recently they’d all been mere twigs of a human.

But upon looking down, Beelcifus realized his abdomen had undergone no such transformation. It still stuck out as stubbornly rotund as it was before. He snapped again, to no avail: his belly did not change. Upon closer examination, he noticed an indentation running vertically down the center of his abdomen, similar to the definition of his abdominals before. Moreover, the pockmarks and bumps had returned to his skin, indicating a normal state. This wasn’t some bloated bulge caused by having eating too much at once; this was what he looked like now.

It was the first time Beelcifus had been transformed by one of his summonings. Any other time his body had changed, even minor changes like his muscles taking on more definition, it had corresponded with growth of his power. He hadn’t always been the imposing figure he was that day. But as he exercised his control over mortals, his form had evolved to match. But it had always been a linear transformation, bringing him closer to the form he’d embodied before emerging into the mortal plane that day. Never a change like that.

With a snarl, the demon spun around to return to the pentagram. As he did, he could feel the extra weight he now carried in front of him jut out more as he spun. He did his best to ignore it as he returned to the circle, closed his wings, and disappeared from the mortal plane.

“Beelcifus… what happened to you?”

Beelcifus did not want to admit to Demiora, or anyone else for that matter, that he’d let a summoning fall out of his control. His pride wouldn’t let him. His newly enlarged stomach had certainly been turning plenty of eyes ever since he returned to the demonic plane, anywhere from one to hundreds at a time. But the other demons knew their place, and had not spoken about it.

Demiora had been the first one bold enough to ask. This didn’t come as a surprise to Beelcifus, for she was the only demon of pride who could rival his power. And just like him, her form was as formidable as her might. She had black skin that rivaled the smoothest of obsidian, cracked like his, but in a more crystalline way. Her eyes radiated blue light, and smoke emanated in a cloud around her head, a cloud that never concealed her face. Though she had a mostly humanoid figure like Beelcifus, she had a smooth torso with no inconvenient protrusions on her chest. Finally, a long tail extended from behind her, always slinking around when she wasn’t using it to travel.

Knowing he would have to answer the question eventually, Beelcifus decided this would be the time. He resisted the urge to cross his arms, lest he look defensive, let out a chuckle instead. “These last humans who summoned me had a… strange desire for me to join them in the ritual. By doing so, I influenced them to make greater fools of themselves than they would have otherwise. The spectacle was wonderful!”

“Seems you made a bit of a spectacle of yourself,” Demiora teased, her tail creeping out from behind her to wrap around his midsection. It could barely make it all the way around, the pointed end lying where his indent lay.

With a snarl, Beelcifus grabbed the end of Demiora’s tail and whipped it to the side, causing it to unwind itself from around his body before she retracted it closer to herself. “Quite presumptuous of you to think you’re worthy of feeling it.”

“You’re proud of it? Of course you are. Why wouldn’t you be?” she asked with a tone that let Beelcifus know she wasn’t fooled by his bluff. But regardless of whether it had convinced her of his confidence, it had gotten her to leave him alone, as she sauntered past him without another word. But not before letting her fingers graze the side of his stomach.

By the time Beelcifus turned around to berate her, Demiora had already vanished into the flames. After narrowing his eyelids in the direction where she’d likely gone, Beelcifus turned around and kept walking. Again, he passed by a myriad of demons who dared not question his new form. But this time, their silence bothered him more than he cared to admit. Now he could hear Demiora’s words in their stares.

With a flap of his wings, Beelcifus flew off to find a space in the demonic realm where he could be alone. To his dismay, he found maneuvering while flying to take a bit more consideration now. His extra weight made swift turns more of a challenge, and he was forced to fly with less panache than usual. But still he flew, and he found a floating mound of dark, porous rock where he could be on his own.

Beelcifus walked around the stone for a while, feeling the way his new belly moved. He ruminated on how he now moved with a mindfulness of his extra weight, trying to not make it sway wildly. He found himself leaning back yet again to account for all the weight he carried in front of him. And though his stomach was still firm, there was a softness to it that had not been present when it was full of food.

It was certainly a change from his previously muscular form. But the more Beelcifus considered his new belly, the less convinced he was that that was a bad thing. He knew he had nothing to be ashamed of; as a demon of pride, why should he? And if this belly was a part of him now, then it wasn’t anything to be ashamed of either.

As he pondered this, Beelcifus found himself rubbing his hands along the surface of his belly. His claws gently scratched the newly softened protrusion, a feeling he found quite enjoyable. The sensation of rubbing his heft brought him pleasure too, something his abs had never done. Feeling how it stuck out in front of him was its own source of satisfaction.

Beelcifus almost wished those humans would summon him again. And if they did, he knew he just might let down the pretense of being too good to eat the way they did.

Beelcifus found himself compelled to a familiar corner of the demonic realm. With a smile, he unfurled his wings and flew as quickly as he could. Soon he’d leapt back into the mortal realm, and found himself surrounded by six familiar faces.

“So. You’ve summoned the great Beelcifus once again. Do you still have the same desire?”

“We do, oh great one,” the confident once affirmed. They looked just as strong and imposing as they had the last time Beelcifus had left them. But this time, they stood steadfast around the circle as they stared at the demon flying above, unflinching in their resolve. Beelcifus smiled as he watched them refuse to waver. They were worthy of the gift they desired.

Beelcifus wasted no time. With a snap of his fingers, he’d summoned a table twice as large as the one he’d summoned previously, and covered just as densely with food. The men didn’t hesitate, rushing to the table and chowing down on the food in front of them without any doubts of whether he expected them to finish it all. Their eagerness pleased Beelcifus greatly.

But not as much as he knew the food would please him. This time, Beelcifus did not need to be asked to join them. With an eager grin, he sat in front of the table, putting him at the right height to take food without having to reach too far down, and got to eating.

Beelcifus didn’t bother with any pretenses of eating mindfully or discerningly. Having made sure there was plenty of food for himself and the men, he didn’t need to. Rather than picking up items of food one by one between his claws, he’d pick up entire platters to eat the food from. The larger food items were eaten by the handful, while the smaller ones were simply poured into his mouth. Once he’d gotten a satisfying mouthful of a given dish, he’d drop it back onto the table before picking up another.

As Beelcifus stuffed himself full of his delectable goodies, he was impressed by how voraciously the men ate. It seemed that genuinely losing himself to his abandon had inspired the men more than his pretense of composed eating had. They were already quite full, demonstrated by their rotund guts that were tight as a drum. And yet, they still ate like they’d lived off of a diet of bland sustenance, and this was their first taste of real food. With both hands, they shoved as much of the meal as they could down their greedy gullets, like it could disappear at any second.

Which it could have, if Beelcifus were so inclined. But he was so impressed by the men’s dedication to gorging that he decided to give them more instead. As he chewed a mouthful of whole roasts, his pointed teeth crunching the bones effortlessly, he snapped his fingers once again. Immediately, the platters were refilled as if he and the men had never touched them. And yet, the men were so entranced by their eager eating that they scarcely seemed to notice, content to keep taking food.

Beelcifus himself was content to do the same. Peeking down, he saw that his belly had already grown noticeably from the meal, sticking out a bit farther in all directions than it had upon his arrival. With a smirk, he patted it on the side, curious and even a bit excited to see just how much bigger it would get by the end of the meal. Picking up a platter of meat balls, he poured as many as he could into his mouth, before leaning back to chew them all.

Beelcifus paid little mind to what he ate. He knew all of the food he summoned was delectable. He didn’t need to be at all discerning to ensure he’d pick something he’d love to eat. Indeed, the food was all so consistently delicious that the meal passed by in a blur of flavors, punctuated by the satisfied groans of the men, who swelled around him to comical sizes.

But they weren’t the only ones. As Beelcifus ate, he could feel the pressure of all the food inside him growing more intense, his swollen abdomen stretching tighter. It was enough to make him let out a few low groans. But the feeling merely motivated him to eat more, to amplify the sensation and revel in the sensuality of the experience. Unlike the men, he did not slow down his eating.

Beelcifus only stopped his eating when the food had all been depleted, the table laying bare and empty. As Beelcifus looked around, he saw the men all lying on their backs, their gargantuanly bloated guts sticking out above them with nearly half of their own height. They barely moved as the men breathed, seemingly pushing back against the men’s inhalations with their own weight.

While Beelcifus enjoyed hearing the men struggle to breath, he didn’t want them suffocating when they’d given him exactly what he wanted. He quickly snapped twice, once to dismiss the table, and once to cause the men’s bellies to shrink and turn into more muscle. With a wave of his hand, he accelerated the process to relieve the sleeping mortals of their smothering burdens. Soon their muscular bodies had achieved proportions that nearly rivaled Beelcifus’s definition. They were so heavily built that it would likely hinder their movements, an irony that amused Beelcifus.

But his chuckle was short lived. As he looked upon the men, he crossed his arms, proud of the work he’d done to build them in his image. But as he looked down upon his own arms, he realized the image of a strongly defined body with an intimidating amount of musculature was not one he could call his own anymore.

Beelcifus uncrossed his arms and held them up to look at them. His once chiseled limbs were now encased in a layer of fat which no doubt made them wider, but hid some of the definition. The musculature seemed to carry the fat in a way that retained definition and had little jiggle, but flexing them didn’t produce the same effect it once had.

With a sigh, Beelcifus looked down and confirmed that his gut had continued the transformation it had started at his previous summoning. The notch down the center remained, a sign of the muscles underneath holding all that girth in place. But now his belly was big enough to completely hide his crossed legs from view. With a frown, he flapped his wings, and found it noticeably harder than before to lift himself.

But with some exertion, he was back on his feet. As he adjusted to his shifted center of balance, he found himself leaning back and causing his belly to stick out. It was about as big compared to him as the men’s food-filled bellied had been on them. But upon putting his hands on the sides and squishing it in, his fingers bending up to avoid puncturing the skin with his claws, he found it was all flab. He’d let himself become just as voracious as the men he’d once found amusement in, and now he looked like them.

And yet, Beelcifus couldn’t help but smile. Rubbing his hands along the side of his belly, he found a strange satisfaction in feeling just how big it had become. Swiveling side to side, he enjoyed the sensation of being able to throw his weight around. As he struggled to reach underneath his gut to grab it, there was something tantalizing about knowing he commanded more mass than he could hold. After grabbing it from beneath to lift it up, he let it drop and enjoyed the bounce as he found himself swaying back and forth.

He couldn’t deny it: the gut was growing on him, and not just growing bigger.

With a smile, Beelcifus turned around to return to the fire of the pentagram. He retracted his wings to fit inside, but found that the fire around the rim could not encase him anymore. Instead, it flared up to the bottom of his belly, before dissipating around him. With a wave of his hand, he bid the flames to bend outward and surround him entirely. Once they had, they strengthened to send him back to the demonic realm, before burning down to ash.

Beelcifus did his best to use his wings to slow his descent, but he knew how to slow his descent when all they had to carry was a muscular body. All his new heft made it harder to slow his descent, his wings seemingly insufficient to decelerate him. From the sensation of how quickly he was falling, he knew he was going to land with an impact that would make him impossible to ignore.

When Beelcifus colided with the burning ground of the demonic plane, he created a crater that was wider than he was tall, and deep enough that his legs were completely under the rim.

Instantly, the demons around him turned their eye or eyes to see what had created such a noise. Upon seeing what Beelcifus looked like now, most could not look away. As a demon of pride, Beelcifus did not mind being the center of attention. But he still lowered his eyelids and crossed his arms. “Go on, then. Speak.”

None of the demons were willing to take Beelcifus up on his challenge. None but Demiora. “You better learn to control that weight of yours as you land,” she said as she emerged from the flames. “Or you might land on someone.”

That suggestion was enough to send the smaller demons scurrying away. With a snarl, Beelcifus watched them go, before looking up at Demiora, now taller than him as he stood in the crater. “Serves them right for standing on my ground.”

“Mm, fair,” Demiora said blithely, her wide grin indicating she wasn’t swayed by his reasoning. “I suppose they’ll shake it off in time.”

Not wanting to have to look up at Demiora as they talked, Beelcifus flapped his wings to lift himself out of the crater. He had to flap them quite quickly to gain any height, but he was able to lift himself up to the rim after some labored flight. Once he landed, he hoped that wherever he was summoned next, there would be a wind to carry him there.

“So, seems you’ve found a new calling,” Demiora said as her tail pointed toward Beelcifus’s belly, not wrapping around it this time.

“Hmmph, hardly. It has only been two summonings where I was called upon to utilize this,” he said as he patted his belly, intent on proving to Demiora that he had no shame about it.

“Only two? And they fattened you up that much?”

I fattened myself up this much,” Beelcifus corrected. “And in return, the mortals provided me with a spectacle that I’m sure will rarely be matched.”

“You always did like your spectacles,” Demiora said.

“And what motivates you if not that?”

“The sense of control, of course. Though I suppose losing that control could be thrilling from time to time.”

“I think you’re too cowardly to try it.”

Deminora’s cackle echoed across the demonic realm. The smoke from her head bellowed out to cloud the landscape around them, so thick that Beelcifus could see only her. It soon dissipated as she looked back at him with a grin, but he refused to break his stare. “That was a nice try, Beelcifus. I’ll remember that for the next time I want to watch a demon humiliate themselves.” With a few slinky movements, she disappeared into the fires yet again.

Beelcifus was left standing with few demons still looking his way, most of them having moved on or been scared off by Demiora’s cackle. And yet, he still didn’t feel any better for having stood up for himself. He considered flying off to find a private spot on a floating rock again, but the thought of flying that far with all his new girth wasn’t an appealing one. With a sigh, he slowly lowered himself and sat at the edge of the crater, letting his burly legs dangle into it, and watched the flames of the demonic realm creep inside.

Danny lifted his long-reach lighter off of the last candle around the pentagram. He’d lost count of how many candles he’d lit, but it was enough to light up a good swath of the abandoned building he’d come to in order to summon the demon. With so little light creeping into the giant room, they created a disk of light that shone in a uniform shape, minus where he cast a shadow, before fading into the darkness.

With all the candles lit, Danny put his lighter aside. He kneeled at the side of the pentagram, his upper legs perpendicular to the floor. He’d heard that the best way to summon this demon was to sit with one’s rear end resting on their feet, but as hefty as he was, that was a tall order. And simply sitting next to the pentagram, he reasoned, would be too casual. So he settled on his present pose, where his belly stuck out just enough to feel the heat of the candles rising up underneath it.

It was an impressive belly. It stuck out enough to be twice as thick as the abdomen of an average man his height, and was twice as wide too. Plenty of encouragers and admirers had complimented him on how big he was, and he didn’t doubt them. But he wanted to be bigger, and it was his hope that the demon would help him get there.

With one final long exhalation, Danny let his arms fall to his sides with his fingers outstretched. After closing his eyes, he started chanting the forbidden words, slowly but steadily, resolute in his intention. He kept his eyes closed, even as the building felt like it was rumbling around him. He kept them closed as a wind passed by him, and he heard one of the candles fall over. He kept them closed as the heat from the flames in front of him grew hotter. So unwavering was he that it didn’t even occur to him that a fire might have started in front of him. He was sure it was his summoning working.

Soon enough, he was proven correct. A horrible sound like a thunder clap right next to one’s ear nearly sent him flying back, but his weight gave him enough inertia to stay put. Even a booming voice growling, “You dare summon me, mortal?” could not shake him.

“I do, oh great one,” he affirmed with his eyes still closed.

Beelcifus looked upon the ample mortal with a smile. “Your will is strong. Your resolve is not easily shaken. You may yet be worthy of the gifts I can bestow. But not if you are not willing to behold what you have wrought. Open your eyes, mortal.”

Danny did as Beelcifus instructed, and though he breathed more heavily once he saw the demon, he did not look away in fear as so many had before. He looked up steadily, and once he’d gazed into the demon’s fiery eyes, he did not look away.

“Good. You have the pride to bear what I may offer. Now, mortal, what is it you seek?”

“Oh great one, I have made great strides on my own in achieving the body I so desire, and am proud of how far I have come.”

The man’s choice of words made Beelcifus smile, and he looked forward to what would come next. Perhaps some kind of exercise to the point of torture help him lose the weight he still had. Whatever it would be, the demon was excited. “And yet?”

“And yet, I wish to be fatter.”

The fire within which Beelcifus stood was the only source of light that illuminated him. As such, his face was cast in shadows, his eyes not illuminating it in spite of their brightness. So Danny would not have been able to see the confusion on the demon’s face, though it would have been quite apparent in a well-lit room.

Beelcifus never made mortals repeat themselves when they’d spoken perfectly clearly. And never questioned their desires, as he wasn’t interested in why they wanted what they wanted. He only cared how he could use their desires to manipulate them. Which left him only able to ask the mortal, “How much fatter do you desire to be?”

“I want to be as fat as I can be while still being able to walk around. I want to show off just how huge I’ve become. I want everyone I run into to be shocked at how big I am, and even more perplexed by just how happy I am about it. By how proud I am of my growth.”

Beelcifus had never met a mortal like this one. He understood the six thin men who wanted to be muscular eating to bulbous proportions as a means to an end. But for this man, the heavyset figure was the end. He wanted to get fat for its own sake. The thing many mortals considered degrading was what he desired.

Beelcifus had not anticipated a request like that. And yet, the man’s wishes made perfect sense to him. He was driven by the same desires that drove Beelcifus. And though it didn’t fit in with what he understood about humans, he was more than happy to oblige the man’s desires. “Tell me: what is something you could fill yourself with nearly to bursting and still not tire of?”

“Italian food,” the man answered, sounding as if the mere mention of the stuff was enough to put him under the demon’s control.

Beelcifus still didn’t have a grasp on the distinctions between the different kinds of human sustenance. Thankfully, he didn’t need one. With a snap, he and the man were soon surrounded by amply loaded plates of food, which floated along slowly in a ring around them. If the man’s open-mouthed smile was any indication, Beelcifus had conjured exactly what the man desired.

“Are you ready?” Beelcifus asked in a low tone.

“Almost.” After sticking one leg out from underneath him, then the other, the man took on a sitting position, his legs outstretched as he leaned back and supported himself with his arms. This allowed his belly to spread out in front of him, looking quite impressive with the extra space. “Now I’m ready.”

“Good.” With another snap, the food started zipping from the plates in the man’s direction, filling his eager mouth so that he could scarcely close his lips as he chewed. But with his eyes half closed, it was clear he wouldn’t have it any other way. Once he swallowed one massive bite, the food around them would quickly fly in to stuff his mouth yet again. The groans that were muffled by his mouthfuls of food made it clear this was exactly what he wanted.

To Beelcifus, this was a strange sort of display, albeit one he still enjoyed watching. But it was about to get stranger yet. With his mouth still full, the man reached one arm out toward the demon. Curious, Beelcifus approached until he was close enough for the man to grab his hand. Or rather, one of his fingers, which was about all the man could grab onto. Once he had, he pulled Beelcifus’s hand down onto his own fat belly, and moved it up and down.

Beelcifus’s hand was quite large compared to the man’s stomach, even given how fat he was. Yet there was something Beelcifus admired about just how brazenly the man had demanded he rub his belly. Knowing this might cause the man to eat even more and put on more of a show, Beelcifus obliged his request. Turning his own belly to the side so he could reach the man, he rubbed his palm along the man’s soft stomach, arching his claws up so they wouldn’t pierce his delicate mortal skin. As he did, the man moaned louder, something Beelcifus took great joy in. He varied his technique, running his hand around the mortal’s belly in whatever direction got the strongest reaction out of him. He felt like he was settling into something quite delectable.

But then the man surprised him again, reaching out his hand and rubbing Beelcifus’s belly. The sensation was scant at first, not drawing much feeling out of the demon’s coarse skin. But as the man kept at it, Beelcifus couldn’t help but come to enjoy the mutual admiration. It had a strange effect on him, causing him to slow down his own rubs. He found his head wavering as the man’s touch sent him into a trance-like state. It seemed he was yet again losing control over a summoning.

And this time, he had no qualms with that.

Beelcifus sat down in front of the man, making it easier for both of them to reach each other. This also allowed them to sit facing each other, belly to belly, which was its own strangely satisfying form of contact. Once they resumed caressing each other’s stomachs, Beelcifus quickly fell back into his stupor, caring only for the mutual joy this summoning brought them both. When the food started flying into his mouth too, he was not surprised, nor did he resist.

Once again, the taste of his own conjured goods brought Beelcifus as much joy as the experience he and the mortal were enjoying together. It may not have been as varied as the feast he’d summon for the skinny ones, but that hardly detracted from how tasty it was. The fact that it was all being brought to his mouth more than made up for it.

Letting himself be fed by his own magic would have been satisfying on its own. But Beelcifus was truly done in by everything that happened as he ate. The mortal’s hands on his rough skin, rubbing his bulging midsection and clearly enjoying it as much as the food. The reminder of just how big he’d grown compared to where he started, all sinew and brute strength, as the man’s arms traveled far to cover all of his heft. The near-certain knowledge that he was going to leave this summoning much wider than before. And how right it felt to resign himself to that fact.

With another snap, Beelcifus caused two tall mounds to rise out of the ground, one behind him and one behind the mortal. This allowed them to lean back as they ate, without having to use their arms to support themselves. Thus they could keep enjoying each other’s heft as they let themselves fall deeper into their gluttonous haze.

Though the mounds were made from the concrete of the floor, Beelcifus had imbued them with one trick: as the two ate, the mounds would shrink, becoming slightly less steep. This would prevent them from feeling too tight against the two’s backs as their bellies swelled fatter and pushed them back farther. With that accounted for, Beelcifus was able to submerge himself completely in the hedonistic enjoyment his powers could provide.

This… this is a sensation worthy of a demon like myself, he thought as he lay back against his mound, chewing a wad of food so gargantuan that he couldn’t close his mouth. To think I denied myself for so long, convinced I’d found superiority in control. This is the superior experience.

Satisfied with his choice, Beelcifus let all his other thoughts drift away. All that mattered was the delicious food entering his mouth, the attention the mortal gave his stomach, and the feeling of the mortal’s belly swelling within in his own hands. Sensation, not sensibility. Submission, not superiority.

As the two ate, Beelcifus could feel their swollen guts begin to push against each other. On cue, the mounds behind them receded, allowing both to lean back and let their packed bellies stick up a little more. With the extra space, they kept eating unhindered, free to grow as they pleased.

And grow they did, both mortal and demon widening to extreme proportions. In spite of leaning back against the mound, the man’s belly spread out nearly to his knees, a testament to just how much weight Beelcifus had put on him. His arms had grown flabbier too, developing their own folds around the elbow and shoulder. His chest had become wide enough for rolls to appear underneath his arms. He was getting his wish.

As was Beelcifus. Though his body did not sag like the mortal’s, his stomach was growing to gargantuan proportions. Even for a demon, who was meant to appear grotesque to mortal eyes, the proportions were obscene. Already, his skin had been stretched so tight as to be smooth yet again. His belly had ballooned like he’d attempted to drink an entire sea of magma, only to be foiled by their endless vastness. His belly was starting to look less like part of him, and more like a sphere he’d been bound to.

And bound to it he was. For not only was he weighed down by the swollen sphere in front of him, but he was bound to do its bidding as well. And it bade him to eat, with an insatiable hunger befitting a demon as powerful as himself. Yet in spite of his powers, he was powerless to resist the demands of his stomach. It was the same demand he’d made of the men who coveted his former form: eat.

Powerless to resist, Beelcifus’s arms went limp as he reclined against his mound, now noticeably less steep to let him and the mortal swell. He obediently chewed the food as it came to his mouth, unhindered by the pains of fullness that slowed his summoner. Gnashing his teeth, he chewed violently and swallowed just as urgently. He was eager to eat as much as he conceivably could.

For the feast could not last forever. After swallowing one final bite, Beelcifus did not feel any more food fly toward his mouth. He lay back a while longer, before the absence of more to chew on stirred him to awareness. He rubbed his face with his hand, scratching it as his claws carelessly ran across his face. Once he was fully aware again, he looked down to see a sight that, for once, did not surprise him.

Beelcifus’s gut had grown outright globular. The skin’s cracks glowed with orange light as it struggled to contain his inconceivable heft. With his mound having shrunk enough to become little more than a pile, his gut swelled out wide enough to completely block his view of the mortal. Not only did it rise above his head, but beyond his sides too. Though he could feel his legs spread apart to lock with the mortal’s, he couldn’t see them, not even the claws on his feet.

Knowing his wings would be of little use now, Beelcifus snapped, causing the ground beneath him to rise up and carry him backwards. It then sunk beneath his feet, slanting down until it had stood him back up. With a bit of adjustment, and a lot of leaning back, he was able to maintain that position.

The mortal didn’t seem like he’d be able to do the same. With the mound beneath him having vanished, he lay on the ground looking like he was overflowing. The flab in his arms, chest, belly, and legs all flattened out on the ground, making him look even wider than he would have if he could stand. His belly stretched out as wide as his elbows, as his arms lay perpendicular to him. Both lobes of his chest fell to the side without a belly beneath them for support.

Beelcifus pitied the man. He had the strength of will to seek what he desired. But when the mortal woke up, Beelcifus doubted he’d be able to leave the abandoned building to show off his size. He’d be stuck there forever, the demon’s work wasted, never to be seen.

Beelcifus couldn’t have that. He was too proud of what the man had accomplished–what he had helped the man accomplish–to let that happen. Though the mortal has not requested it, Beelcifus knew exactly what he needed. And with a snap, he’d get it.

Beelcifus watched as the mortal’s flab all took on a firmer shape. He was far too heavy to appear muscular, but his body looked less saggy, more defined and rotund. He looked even better, Beelcifus believed. And now he had the strength to carry himself out of that building, and show off what he’d earned to all the world.

But he wasn’t the only one who’d changed. And when Beelcifus spotted an undamaged floor-to-ceiling window between the room he was in and another, he decided to amble over to have a look.

Beelcifus was happy to feel that he had no issue walking at his new size, which he knew was much bigger just by looking down. He still had to move with a mindfulness of his gut and all the weight it now carried. But he enjoyed the swagger his wider steps gave him, courtesy of all the muscles he had that could support his weight. With a smirk, he swung his arms a little wider, which gave him a perceptible amount of help in moving all his heft. It didn’t take much longer for him to close the distance between himself and the window, and once he did, he beheld quite the sight.

Staring back at Beelcifus was a demon of immense girth, the likes of which he’d never seen before. Thanks to his snap, every part of him had swollen to gargantuan size. His face still bore his imposing features, including the eyes that shone brightly in his reflection. But now it was surrounded by enough flab that the line between his cheeks and chin had completely disappeared. He didn’t look quite as intimidating as he frowned at his reflection, but he quite enjoyed the way his smile pushed up his chubby cheeks.

Outstretching his arms, Beelcifus admired his limbs next. Like the mortal, he had enough flab on him that his muscle definition had been entirely lost. But when he flexed his arms or bent his legs, they contorted in a way that demonstrated that there was still immense musculature underneath. The flab seemed just as willing to firm up and take a more defined shape as his muscle had been previously, though that shape didn’t have quite so many sharp edges. His chest seemed to have undergone a similar transformation. The lobes of his chest were big enough to be bellies in their own right on a thinner demon, yet they were firm, the muscle underneath not yielding them to the pull of gravity.

But all of it paled in comparison to the massive gut that Beelcifus now carried. It was so large that even in all his pride, he was surprised that it did not pull him down to the ground in front of him. His gut was now taller than the torso it jutted out from, and even wider than it was tall. It stuck up enough to hide some of Beelcifus’s chest, while still hanging down enough that he could only see some of his thighs from beneath it. Even the demons of wrath did not bear features as intimidating as he found his new belly.

And he adored it. Stretching out his fingers, he let his hands come to fall on his massive mound of flab. As before, a divot ran down the middle, but now he could only run a claw down it on top of his belly. The rest was simply out of reach. Trying to grab his belly from the bottom was just as fruitless of a venture, as he could barely reach around it even as he kept his arms at his sides. His belly had dwarfed him.

And yet, it was still his to control. Watching himself in the mirror, he strutted around, as if showing off his belly the way he inevitably would when he returned to the demonic realm. His belly bounced with every step, too big to do otherwise. And yet, it still came to rest quickly, firm enough that it didn’t jiggle. It was a joy to watch so much weight on display, and it was all his to command as he saw fit. He couldn’t help but grin as he beheld it all. It was the aftermath of him giving up control, and yet, still within his control.

With a wide smile, Beelcifus extended his hands out and up, as if he were trying to scare a mortal. For added effect, he unfurled his wings. As they extended, he pondered that they probably wouldn’t do him much good for flying now, but at least they’d still help him intimidate humans.

But even the unshakable Beelcifus was surprised when he looked in the mirror and saw two sets of wings extended from his back. The wings he’d used before were still there, sticking out at an upward angle from the top of his back. But a new set of wings, similar to the first one, jutted out downward. As he flapped his upper wings the way he was used to, his lower wings moved similarly. In doing so, he felt much more lift than he was used to, such that he felt himself momentarily lifted off the ground. With a curious expression, he braced himself and flapped as hard as he could.

Beelcifus was airborne, have risen as easily as he could when he was still all muscle. He watched his reflection in disbelief, floating in place as he came to accept that his eyes were not deceiving him. He could fly again.

But his renewed flight abilities were not the only thing that kept Beelcifus transfixed on his reflection. As he pondered the sudden emergence of a second set of wings, he couldn’t help but wonder, Have I become…

Beelcifus was reminded of the stories he’d heard of hybrid demons, who’d been able to master two realms of temptation. There had been a few that Beelcifus had walked the demonic planes with, but even among powerful demons like himself, they were quite rare. Of course, plenty of demons had tried to master two realms of temptation. But most who tried simply converted from one to the other. It was the rare demon who managed to find equal joy in both. But once they did, they would be transformed to reflect the change. The two sets of wings… the growth to my midsection without compromising my strength… it must be!

With a grin, Beelcifus lowered himself onto the floor and walked back to the pentagram, the fire on it still burning. Rather than standing in the center, he stood closer to the rim and raised the fire before pushing it out uniformly, allowing it to completely surround him. Once he’d risen the fire high and wide enough, he disappeared, leaving only a charred pentagram on the floor.

Beelcifus had taken his ability to fly for granted for as long as he could remember. That day, he soared through the skies of the demonic realm with glee, looking over all the inhabitants below as they moved among the fields of fire. Some pointed up toward him as they did. Though Beelcifus was too far up to see their expressions, he still took joy in the mixture of shock and admiration they were no doubt looking upon him with.

As he looked over the landscape, Beelcifus decided to fly to the fetid waters, where many of the demons of pride spent their time. As he approached, he could see plenty of his fellows moving through or relaxing in the acrid waters. He stayed high for the moment, wanting to savor their reactions as he descended into their midst.

Their reactions were worth the effort. The ones with mouths let them fall open. The ones with eyes affixed them on Beelcifus and opened them extra wide. Those on the edges of the waters rushed to the center to get a better look. As his feet splashed into the water, which barely submerged his ankles, he stood tall, stout, and proud, showing off his new heft with a grin. Among demons who thrived on attention, Beelcifus was now the center of theirs.

One of the demons in the crowd confirmed what Beelcifus had suspected. “Beelcifus, you’ve… you’ve become a hybrid demon!”

“As if it’s difficult?” Beelcifus said with a smirk.

The pride demons around Beelcifus all beheld him with an array of reactions, expressed differently depending on their features. Some seemed displeased that he could have strayed from the path of pure pride. Some seemed shocked that a hybrid demon now stood in their midst. Some seemed jealous of the new experiences he’d be able to explore. Some were hard to read due to their lack of features. With slow steps, Beelcifus walked through the waters, taking in all the varied reactions to his transformation, and enjoying every single one.

But one stood out. “Demiora,” he greeted.


“Seems you’re always around when I return to the demonic realm these days.”

“It’s not that hard for someone who can teleport,” she said with a smile.

Beelcifus chuckled, before the two demons of pride stood in silence for a moment. “What, nothing to say this time?” he asked.

“What is there to say? I knew you had it in you.” It was the closest a demon of pride would come to admitting they were proud of anyone except themselves.

“So why the mockery, then?” Beelcifus asked, not losing his smile, now that they knew he’d risen above Demiora’s taunts.

“I didn’t want you to lose your touch and fall to gluttony entirely. Had to give you someone to prove wrong,” she said, maintaining her own smile.

“Why? Without me to compete with, you’d be the most powerful demon of pride around.”

“It’d be lonely at the top without you,” she said, a smidgen of sentimentality Beelcifus had never expected to see from her.

After the two smiled at each other for a bit longer, Beelcifus asked, “Do you want to feel it now?” as he patted the side of his mountainous belly.

“Nah. Where’s the fun if you let me?”

With a chuckle, Beelcifus flapped his wings and took to the air again. He hovered high enough above the water that his feet hung at the same level as Demiora’s head. Demiora merely looked up as he rose, while the rest of the demons of pride stepped back, seemingly startled by his ascent. “See you around,” he said, before he flew off to see what else gluttony had in store for him.

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