Cedar is drinking quietly in a dive bar in Gong, pointedly ignoring the bartender, when the demon appears like turning a corner, long blonde mane, red face, the sound of flutes. “No,” says the bartender flatly. “Get out.”

“I’m a paying customer,” the demon says, swaying.

“Absolutely not.” She reaches under the bar, comes out with a noisemaker, a long hollow stick with ridges on the side, and an abstract, glowering mask. “Leave now.” She whistles for the rest of the staff as she rounds the bar, the cooks and waiter with their own masks and noisemakers. They crowd toward the demon, circle it, growling and scraping and thumping arrhythmically.

“What the hell is this,” says the demon, hitches its nose up like an angry cat. “What are you doing? This sucks, stop this.”

Growl thumpa scrk scrk, they go, circling circling, the bartender flicks water from her bar rag in its face.

“Aaaaah, this sucks, you suck, you losers, fuck this, I’m going to take my money elsewhere, fuck this bar anyway, just stop it.

They open a path to the door, stay right on the demon as it backs away, one step forward for every step back, no ground ceded, filling the air with noise.

When the bar has settled down again and everyone’s back to their spots, Cedar leans forward. “What was that about?”

“Fuckin’ demons,” the bartender growls. “Gotta nip it in the bud immediately when one of them comes in.” She rings a silver bowl set next to the register. “Gotta shut that shit down, or they take you over and you’re a demon bar now and that’s a PROBLEM.”