The magician pulled the stopper from the pewter bottle. Oily black smoke bubbled out of the top and then spilled down the neck to pool around its base. Gradually, the dark vapor coalesced into a solid form, that of a tiny figure with needle-sharp claws, glowing red pinpoint eyes, insectile wings, and a twitching tail. It wore a black hat with a skull and crossbones on it.
“What is thy dread bidding, master?” the imp intoned.
“Wretched spawn of the hell-pits, it is my wish that… wait, is that a pirate hat?” the magician said, registering the headgear.
“Er, no,” the imp said as the article in question poofed away in a puff of smoke. “I mean, not really. Just… just some dark glamour. It looked like a pirate hat, though. Good eye.”
“Why were you wearing a pirate hat?”
“Well, it gets boring, living in a bottle,” the imp said. “So I took up a hobby.”
“Well, not at first,” the imp said. “At first I was just amusing myself by grabbing little crafty things for myself whenever you sent me out into the world, and then I got into model-building, and then from there it just sort of… snowballed.”
“You mean you built a ship inside your bottle?”
“I think it could catch on,” the imp said. “Though I think if you got me a slightly larger bottle, a glass one, then it might be a little more, you know, functional. As a decoration, I mean. Decorative, I guess, would be the word.”
“I didn’t summon you from the hell-pits for decorative purposes.”
“Right, no, you didn’t,” the imp said. “But I’m just thinking… when I’m in the bottle, which is most of the time, you’re not getting any use out of me anyway. But with a glass bottle and maybe some kind of a display stand, maybe a nice polished red walnut or a polished mahogany… well, you’d just be getting more value. And since you gave up your soul to bind me, you might as well get as much as you can out of the deal. Right? I mean, am I right?”
“…let’s just get back to my dread bidding,” the magician said.
“Right,” the imp said. “It was only a suggestion.”