Hello, Scribes and Squids!
Argh, it spilled all over me! Prompt intro writing is messier than I thought it’d be. Now I gotta go wash it off because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Ink on Your Hands
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Some of our prompts are highly specific, like The Fairy Ring, where others are more versatile, like You Did What?! This prompt lands somewhere in the middle.
There are many professions that utilize ink. You could write about an artist consumed by the process, madly throwing ink at the page, leaving themselves covered in it. You could write about an author whose ink keeps dripping on the page, smearing and interrupting their flow. Even though we don’t use quills anymore, our pens can still break. Maybe you could write about a child whose pen spread ink everywhere…only for the teacher to scold them for using a fountain pen in class.
One of the other more realistic ways to use this prompt is tattoos. Perhaps someone has ink on their hands…permanently. You could write about how someone regrets a certain tattoo they put in such a visible place. Or maybe you could write about a magical tattoo for which the location on the body matters.
The phrasing of the prompt reminds me of “blood on your hands.” Is there a situation in which ink could function the same way? Maybe you could write about a situation like Inkheart’s, where certain people can bring stories to life, but, in this case, their hearts are literally ink, and the characters have ink in their veins instead of blood. Or you could write the opposite: someone entering a book—a world of ink. Perhaps the characters are shocked to learn that the real person’s hands aren’t made of ink. Or, like Tom Riddle’s Diary in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, maybe books themselves can bleed ink, if they’re alive enough.
The phrase “blood on your hands” can also be used to denote “caught red-handed.” Perhaps it’s less about the ink being lifeblood, but rather evidence of someone’s crime. Whether that be forging documents, stealing supplies, or a child finger painting where they shouldn’t. Or maybe, like with police fingerprinting, it’s not the ink itself that’s the evidence, but rather what shows up in the ink.
With this prompt, I can’t help but think of the game Bendy and the Ink Machine, where an animator’s creation comes to life as a monster…but it’s still made out of ink. Perhaps you could write about something like that, where the ink is more than just a means to an end, but the stuff monsters are made of. Perhaps, like with Audrey in the Dark Revival, your character seeing their hands be—not just covered in ink, but—turned to ink themselves, is a terrifying thing.
Come here! Yeah, I need your help. I kinda…can’t get this off.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
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Red and Black
‘The battlefield was ripe with the scent of death, that was the only way to describe the cacophony of scents that assaulted Ari’s senses. A mix of vile, putrid and metallic scents that could drive a man mad if you thought about it too hard or named the individual scents. The ground was littered in comrades and enemies alike, all embraced by the ultimate price of war.
There were only a few living, none caring which side they belonged to. The commanders and warriors were long dead, only survivors remained to reap the remains of their brothers and gather trinkets for the love left behind. Ari tried to take a deep breath to calm himself, yet the scent of death robbed him of any peace the breath could have given him.
Fultily defying despair he looked at his hands, recalling how their leaders had waxed poetry on the heroics of war, how sacrifice would save their land and protect those left behind, how they would change history by their own hands. He did not see heroics. He looked at his hands and only saw death, only carnage and sorrow painted red.
As if to overtake him, the red creeped into an inky black, reaching past his hands and up his torso as it painted his whole body. It did not stop with him. Like a lazy tide it reached past him to the battlefield, every inch of red overtaken by a flood of black abandoning them to a world of darkness.’
“Shit!” Emily shouted as she accidentally knocked into her inkwell, ink leaching and running across the page in rivulets, staining her hands and sleeves as she frantically tried to salvage her story.
“I told you it was pretentious to write by hand,” Stefan called from the kitchen.
by Jesse Fisher
The dilapidated building did not hold much, at least as far as the adventurer was concerned. The sepatone of the place looked like some faded newsprint. The creek of the floors was somewhat musical to the fur covered ears. The sounds of the place almost made the hassle of being here worth it.
The roar from a broken pipe of ink was the only warning as the mass of black mass of congealed gunk made its approach. The beast soon met its fate to the bladed fingers of the adventurer.
Said adventurer dislodged his hand from the mass that slumped over and melted into the floorboards
“Such a sad creature, granted I doubt that will be the end of just a glob of living ink.” With that the adventure crushed the inky heart in its claws. “I still have to look further into this place.”
With that the adventurer moved to the next room, which was flooded on the other end as the ground sloped.
“Well that doesn’t make any sense. I was just under there not an hour ago and there was no cascading of the gunk to make it that bad.” He just looked back to the way he came from. “The place is a puzzle box at this point, after the number of times I’ve had to double back just for a wall to open up.”
A roar shaking the whole area brought unimpressed yellow eyes to that of a beast made of the inky gunk and junk of the room.
“My wife is going to kill me when I get back home.”
With a battle cry to the roar the fight began.
Case number: 002148
I was dispatched to Pier 16 on the waterfront at 7:43 AM to investigate an alleged homicide. The victim was identified as Michael Farmingham of Seattle, WA using the state-issued drivers license found in his wallet. Medical Examiner estimated the time of death to be approximately 75 minutes prior to discovery. She noted bruising on the victim’s exposed face and arms resembling sucker marks. No other signs of visible trauma. The individual who discovered the victim saw no other persons nearby.
Canvassing yielded two witnesses, employees working at Pier 14, who claimed to have seen the victim walking shortly with a woman of average height, wearing a ball cap and heavy jacket shortly before the time of death. According to one witness, they appeared to be arguing, based on body language and tone of voice. The only individual words he could discern were the woman saying, “…should have known better.”
I also spoke to Dr. Mary Petersen, a scientist with a PhD in teuthology whose laboratory is located adjacent to the pier where the victim was discovered. She denied seeing or knowing the victim. She identified the sucker marks found on the victim’s skin as matching those of an octopus. She offered the information that the blue-ringed octopus can inject toxic venom into its prey, and that venom can be fata to humans as it paralyzed their ability to breathe.
While Dr. Petersen is not officially a suspect, she remains a person of interest in the case due to her expertise and proximity to the site. She also appeared to be nervous while speaking, licking her lips, picking at a hangnail on her thumb, and avoiding eye contact. She had dark stains under her fingernails. Various cephalopods occupied all of the half-dozen or so large tanks in her laboratory except for one.
Additional investigation into whether the scientist has a prior relationship with the victim and the results of the Medical Examiner’s toxicology tests will determine whether further action is necessary.
Investigator’s note: What kind of person would weaponize an octopus?
by Lee Strangely (with help in editing from i-prefer-the-term-antihero)
I didn’t know where I was. The landscape was riddled with boulders eclipsing a harsh sun, and thin gnarly trees reaching to grab me. The sounds of hooves and feet thumped in lockstep with my rising heartbeat.
Moments ago, I was at my desk trying to finish a book… Now I cowered behind a rock on a battlefield.
Around me villagers ran in fear from hundreds of men on horseback. At least, I assumed they were men. They were… unnatural.
The riders backtracked to catch the ones who tried to hide. The sickness I felt watching it happen overpowered my sense of self-preservation. So—against my better judgment—I ran out to face the demons. No weapons. No training. Just an unarmed idiot with a death wish.
I ran at one of the riders and rammed them with my body. Perhaps it was the angle, or luck, but I sent them to the ground.
I turned to the local he was attacking. “You alright?”
He merely pointed behind me. I avoided major injury but the blade managed to cut my face. As he swung again, I grabbed his arm. …It crumbled in my hand like paper. He shrieked, retracting his arm. Trying to pull him in for a good punch I grabbed his other arm.
To my horror I ripped the thing clean off! He screamed like an animal as he fell to the ground, splattering me in something black as night that I could only assume was blood. The local I tried to protect, looking equally shocked, dropped to his knees.
“What are you…”
He muttered something I quickly realized was some sort of prayer.
“Look you don’t have to…”
Before I could finish, another person started doing the same.
“Please don’t do that. Look, I’m just a guy!”
Finally, another one nearby spoke, “No man has THAT strength.”
“So? I’m strong. There’s lots of strong people in the world.”
“But only the ink of a god runs red.”
“Ink?” instinctively I felt along my face. Looking back at my hand I saw the blood from my cut.
Quelling the Storm (Illusions of Heroes)
by Gerrit (Rattus)
Sails flapped violently against the mast, drowning out the frantic shouts of the crew. Niri stood at the bow, watching the Tempest grow until it consumed her vision.
Waves smashed the sides of the boat, churned up by winds so strong that Niri had to grip the rails for fear of being blown overboard. Dark clouds blacked out the sun, concealing the whirlpools that roiled below.
“Are you sure this is going to work?” Emrys stood beside her, yelling just to be heard.
“It has to!” Niri yelled back. “We don’t exactly have another option!”
The Arcanaeum’s ships were still following them, though all of their sails had been struck. Not even they were stupid enough to sail headfirst into the Tempest.
“Do you trust me?” Niri asked. What a stupid question. He was on the ship, wasn’t he?
Emrys rested a hand on Niri’s shoulder. “Of course! There are few people I trust more!” He smiled at her, and it was genuine. If nothing else, there was that. One person she hadn’t failed.
The waves were strong enough now that they rocked the ship. Sunlight was all but gone from sight, the boat continuing blindly into the darkness.
This had to work. Then again, if it didn’t, what was there to lose? Either they died in the Tempest, or were killed by the Knights Arcane. At least this was a chance.
As the Tempest began to reach them, the whirlpools all around tugging at the ship and fighting to sink it, she felt the familiar warmth of magic. She looked down at her hand, to the runic tattoo given to her by Great Auma’nu, a faint glow emanating from the lines.
The seas before them calmed, only for the duration of their passing. The turbulent winds shifted behind their sails, propelling them through the previously impassable storm. The Tempest crashed back against itself behind them, preventing any followers.
Minutes later the sun broke through the clouds, and the waters ahead calmed. They were safe. She turned, and the entire crew was smiling at her.
She had done it.
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
“Father!” Mazylas’s steps echoed through the temple’s halls. She was not often loud, but she could project her voice like none else. “FATHER!”
“I’m here,” Padas said. He looked so frail these days. “Why are you shouting? What’s wrong?”
“It’s Kankintis. I did not complain when Klajonas brought her here, nor when you adopted her, nor when she gave herself such a depressing name. But now, I find her with ink on her hands and this,” she held up a scroll to his failing eyesight, “in the library. What is the meaning of this?”
“It can’t be allowed, Father.”
“Why? It is mine.”
“You know why! Vienas charged me to–.”
Padas huffed and sat back next to the Everflame. “Vienas had her plans and they are nearly complete, but this is necessary, daughter. Klajonas will need a companion, so will many in this world. Kankintis can help me prepare the way for that.”
“And what if it is her?”
“Is that a problem? Is she unworthy somehow?”
“No, but this can be abused, Father.”
“So can all privileges.” He rocked back and stared, barely seeing, into the flames. “She is acceptable. Moreso, maybe. She is kind and stoic, and she can give aid. You do not know what it is like to be alone, Mazylas. It is a terrible thing.”
“But I do know what it is like to be left.”
He sighed, nodding. “What Brolis did to you–.”
“This isn’t about him. It’s about you. Vienas died so that you could live, could ever-live. It will be lonely, yes, but eventually you will be able to walk among us again.” Mazylas said, kneeling next to him. “Father, please don’t do this.”
“The Companion isn’t for me. I miss Vienas dearly, but I’m content with my existence. Content to wander these halls and haunt this city. She is for you. And Klajonas. And all those who need another beside them.”
Mazylas stared at the scroll, at the flames, at her father. The scroll would burn easily, but he would have his way. Eventually. She decided to help him.
[Dm me on discord for details!]
Crucible of Worlds
“What does it mean to be a worldsmith?”
The little girl stood in a dark chamber, wide-eyed with admiration. A tall figure stood before her, silhouetted against the faint light, cast by an old lamp. She leaned over a book, watching the maelstrom that swirled below the chamber. Hints of images and shapes flickered in the vortex as she wrote. She answered without turning.
“Why, it’s exactly as the name suggests, my dear. We build worlds.” Sensing her pupil’s dissatisfaction, she continued. “Many ephemeral worlds are born in these chambers. They flicker out in an instant. It takes work to build a living, breathing world full of people with hopes and dreams and aspirations. We must lovingly write the fates of these worlds and those who inhabit them, for, without love, they shrivel into lifeless husks.”
“If you love them so much, why do so many of them have such cruel fates? Why do you write so much sorrow?” asked the little girl, still watching the master closely.
A smile tugged at the master worldsmith’s lips. She was pleased that her pupil was asking the right questions, but she was careful not to show it. As she replaced her stylus, the ink rushed back into the inkwell, swirling and glinting just like the starry cosmos that stretched around them. The little girl’s eyes sparkled every time she saw it happen. The master spoke again, softly this time.
“Because sorrow is a vital component of any world. It lends meaning to joy, it brings colors to the world that otherwise would be left wanting. And because it is so compelling! Remember this, child: Those who aren’t ken to sorrow cannot build a world. Those absorbed by sorrow must not build a world.”
Watching her young pupil absorb these words with such enthusiasm, she couldn’t help but let her smile blossom.
“And most importantly, remember not to leave their fates hanging. Once you start building a world, you must see it through. The ink must always flow… Even if it means getting ink on your hands.”
In The Slammer
The cell door locked shut with a loud thunk. Cristian looked down at his fingers, black with ink after being fingerprinted. Ryan, seemingly without a care in the world, laid down on the bench along the wall, a grin on his face.
“I want to talk with my lawyer!”
Cristian looked over to the cell across from them, as the door was locked shut. Inside was a latina woman, or at least, so she appeared. Cristian knew better. This wasn’t his first encounter with her.
“You’ll all get a chance to make some phone calls in an hour or two,” the deputy sheriff said as he opened the door from the holding area. “In the meantime, I suggest you make yourselves comfortable.” He left, slamming the door shut.
“This is your fault, you idiots!” the woman, Eva, yelled. “If you didn’t stick your nose in where it didn’t belong…”
“We weren’t the ones trying to steal money, hermana!” Cristian shot back.
“What are you laughing at?” Cristian asked. “Tell me you have a plan.”
“Maybe.” Ryan’s grin never left his face. “You two keep arguing among yourselves.”
Cristian looked down at his fingers again. “I’ve managed to go twenty-six years without getting arrested. Everyone’s going to be so disappointed in me.”
“I’ve never been arrested either, pendejo!” Eva yelled back.
“Shocked, considering what a thief you are! I’m not in the habit of breaking the law!”
“Impersonating agents from Homeland Security seems like a crime to me, dipshit!”
Ryan sat up, his grin growing wider. He spun his finger, seeming to indicate that he wanted them to continue.
“What are you doing?” Cristian asked.
“No, keep arguing. She just called you a dipshit.” Ryan raised his hand to the lock on the cell door and knocked twice. There was a soft thunk as it released, and the door creaked open.
“Hey, let me out, too!” Eva hissed.
“Why should we?” Cristian shot back.
“So I don’t yell for the police.”
Ryan nodded, then unlocked Eva’s cell the same way. “You need to come with us, though.”
by Hario Tezawa
“You must be hungry by now.”
He was. There was no food nor drink—he’d searched everywhere. He found a nostalgic home once, a lush garden another—he even stumbled upon the supermarket he’d spent much of his youth within. But even so, he’d searched through vast freezers and numerous packages, and just like the trees of the gardens and the cupboards of the home, all were lacking sustenance.
With each of the countless passing days, the more he withered. The pain became unbearable, and he looked to the hooded ferryman for mercy, for death. But his keeper could not grant it.
“You know what you must do,” said the ferryman.
“I can’t. She’s so young.”
“It does not matter. My debt is paid, and for all of us to move on, she must.”
If it were yesterday, he would have said no, and sat in defiance; but it was today, and he would do anything to cease the starvation.
“Fine,” he said, defeated.
“Hold out your hand.”
He did as he instructed, and the ferry man conjured a knife, and pricked the tip of his finger.
“Now grab the oar to complete the contract, and take her to the other side.”
He grabbed the oar, and his bleed seeped into the ancient wood. A warmness overcame him, wrapping around his skin like a blanket. His vision cleared and his hunger abated. His worries did as well, along with his glee and his wonder. All he knew was she was waiting, and he would take her anywhere she wanted on the river, until she eventually arrived to where she needed to be.
When he looked up, he was alone.
The last thing she remembered was her parent’s screams, shattering glass, and her whole world shaking sideways. She rose from the riverbank, lost and confused.
“They are not here child. It is only you and I.”
“Who are you?”
“The ferryman. A friend. Come. It is time.”
“I don’t want to go…”
“Neither did I. Now come.”
The ferryman held out a hand. The little girl took it.
Drawing in the Middle of the Night
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
It’s late. So late it’s early. You’re not supposed to be here. This room should’ve been locked. You’re glad it wasn’t.
You make sure not to touch her masterpieces. They are truly masterpieces. Master-pieces. Pieces of the master. What a funny word. But an accurate one.
You are not a master, but this will still be a piece of you. It has to be.
You pick up a clean sheet of paper and place it on the desk. It’s daunting, unsettling, but you have to start somewhere. You pick up her pen and draw a line. It’s shaky and uneven. Of course it is. You don’t know what you’re doing. The only art you’ve ever created was finger paintings in kindergarten and doodles in notebook margins.
So you doodle. What is it? Is it anything at all? No. It’s an emotion.
But what is art other than emotion? She uses this pen to draw her feelings, her sorrows, her joys, the inner workings of her heart. Because if she didn’t draw them, she’d have to say them, which can be impossible for her.
Same for you. Like mother, like daughter. The difference is she’d honed her craft, and you haven’t.
You hear footsteps upstairs. It’s morning. She’s awake and soon she’ll be down here, in her basement art studio, and she’ll see you. You need to leave without getting caught.
You fold your drawing, shove it in your pocket. Then you sneak into the kitchen and try to play it cool over your morning coffee.
But the evidence is all over your fingers.
She judges you. Asks questions. You hang your head and tell the truth. You unfold the drawing, smeared and creased. You wait for her to tell you that you are a failure of a daughter.
She doesn’t. Instead, she chuckles. She offers to frame your art. The piece of you. Just like the pieces of her that decorate this house’s walls. The masterpieces.
You say yes, even though you know it’s not a master-piece. It’s a beginner-piece.
But it exists, and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
The Embrace of Darkness (The Will)
Ink was a lot like blood in Remianna’s eyes. It stained her porcelain-white scales and its odour wafted and clung to the top of her mouth—something she would never forget.
Its purpose, too, was similar, being the lifeblood of all recorded knowledge and history, emotions and strategy, love and economy. It flowed through pens and books, and got old and unreliable as time continued on, uncaringly. Without it, civilization would not be alive. Moments of time precious to us would be lost like leaves amongst the mulch. The world would bleed out its discoveries to never again be seen.
“Oh!” Oyla, her salt-and-pepper avonis friend lamented. “So sorry, Remianna! You’d think I’d be a little more careful after being promoted.”
But ink was cold.
She could feel the lifelessness between her claws—sinking deeper into her dress. It wasn’t as beautiful, or as fleeting as blood. Ink never made her feel wanted.
Oyla tried in vain to clean up the mess she had made, but the damage was done. The regal dragoness’ dress was ruined, and it would take weeks to get the stains off of her scales. The avonis sighed. “I’m—”
“You were asking me rather angrily why I married Eymir,” Remianna continued, looking down to the pooling, black ink on pristinely white paper, not bothered in the slightest. Oyla seemed a bit cautious now, as she was expecting a stern sigh in response. “It’s because he makes me happy—makes me feel as if I’m not the only one looking for answers.”
The dragoness’ fellow mage looked at her as if she were insane. “H… he’s going to kill you, you know,” Oyla stated firmly. “He’s going to kill all of us—prophecy dictates it.”
“Then why does it matter if he kills me if I’m going to die by his hand anyways?” Remianna shot back. Oyla shook her head and turned away, so she continued. “I made him a promise that I would help him be free of the Forbearer inside him, and I made a promise to myself to be happy. I intend to keep them.”
Born of my Midnight Blood|An Emergent Earth Story
by Exce, Edited by Skeleton Prime and JosieDearly
Markus sat at a small table, placed atop a flat section of his roof. His library was out of the way, far enough from any city to avoid light pollution.Instead, stars speckled the sky above with one faint line of gold streaking from one horizon to the other.
On the table in front of him was a weighed down stack of scrap-paper, pages of fallen apart books–dime novels–some which had been irreparably damaged. And then, next to that lay a head-sized chicken-wire egg.
He was able to do a lot of things with his magic: Paint inky portals that would always let him return home, instantly inscribe a page with his mind or create copies of any text he touched,
but he had found himself wondering if he could do more. Could he bring shape to his magic beyond flat surfaces?
So, he found himself with a small crafting project.
He rolled up his sleeves, revealing pale arms speckled with blackish-blue spots devoid of any hair or texture.Then, Markus raised his hands and the palms darkened and formed a wet sheen. He ran them over the wiry shape, then picked up a sheet of paper and applied it on top. When you came down to it, this act of potential sacrilege was just papier-mâché.
Every time he finished a layer, he covered it wholly in the dark ink, then moved on to the next.
Markus worked slowly and with great care to avoid ripping or clumping the paper. Wíth each layer he felt the weight of magic increase until his fingers almost went numb with the sensation of brushing over the smooth surface.
Only slightly concerned, he dismissed the ink for a moment before checking his fingers, but was relieved to find them still flesh-coloured. It was the egg’s effect, not the price of his magic.
He was unsure how long he had taken, but when he had no more paper left the egg seemed notably bigger, and the dark night-blue shell shimmered with reflected golden shine.Markus leaned back, smiling tiredly but accomplished.
Sharing Is Caring
“Why am I sitting on the floor?” asked Mara.
Laila glared at the demon. “Because you keep taking my sword! It’s forged from my soul! It’s… intimate! I’m teaching you how to make your own!”
“But I like your sword. And our souls are connected by Matt anyway, so…”
Laila scowled. “Close your eyes!”
Mara blanked for a moment then obeyed. “…I think I like it when you get all bossy.”
A subtle blush colored Laila’s cheeks as she joined Mara on the floor. “Sh… shut up. Don’t be weird. Just close your eyes and focus.”
“Is this even gonna work? Isn’t forging soul-swords an angel thing?”
Laila rolled her eyes. “As you said, our souls are connected. This should work for you too. Now focus.”
Mara smirked. “Focus on what?”
“Your soul. Acknowledge it as a whole. Yes… just like that… but try to keep it focused on YOUR soul. I know it’s a bit crowded in here.”
“You’re doing fine. Now… think of Matt…” Laila’s eyes shot open as her cheeks burned again. “N… not like THAT! I meant in the sense of wanting to protect him! To be his weapon!”
“You should’ve been more specific.” Mara grinned wickedly.
“Just do it…”
“Good. Good… Now take that and focus it in your hands. Imagine your soul pouring into them. Yes… Now… open your eyes.”
When Mara did, she was surprised to see a formless black blob of energy floating just above her hands.
“Now grab the hilt.”
“There… is no hilt…”
Laila smirked. “Then make one.”
Mara hesitated before grabbing at the blob, which immediately formed into a hilt. And connected to it was a huge black and red flaming sword covered in spikes.
“Bitchen…” Mara stared at the blade in awe.
“See?” Laila grinned back. “You feel that connection? Now imagine someone else using it.”
“I won’t have to.” Mara tossed the new sword in Laila’s lap.
“I still like yours more.” Mara held out her hand, summoning Laila’s blade.
“That’s not-… Hey! Get back here!” Laila cried out, chasing after the demon.