Time: Shortly after Beside a Black Tarn
While nudity appears to be the imp uniform de rigueur in the palaces of Hell, some sources indicate that favored imps are allowed tail ornaments. Several instances of bell jewelry and tail bangles are mentioned in Schneider's All Hell's Parties, and one mention of tail piercing appears in the descriptions of the entourage of Prince Vissago.
Mac sipped his whiskey as he read to the end of the entry. There wasn't much more except to say that imps were numerous and short-lived, in relative demon terms.
"Not being a lot of help, all you high-minded scholars," he muttered to his reader.
Heckle was out at another party with the captain. Not that Mac was jealous. "Out with the captain" meant out on a job, which eventually meant cash for the upkeep of the ship. Early on, Mac had worried that Captain Shax was taking advantage, using Heckle as Fagan used the kids in Oliver Twist. He shouldn't have gotten his knickers twisted. Heckle knew what he was doing on these nights out, knew he was an accomplice to theft. He thought it was fun.
But now that there were nights here and there when he knew Heckle wouldn't be onboard for a few hours, Mac had time for some clandestine research. Sure. He could've just asked the resident demons about imps, but demons were a lot like Australians in that regard. They liked to mess with you if you weren't a local and were likely to hand you a steaming pile of bullshit with a smile instead of real information. Just for fun.
Problem was, even after the Big Reveal when the forces of both Heaven and Hell decided humans should know they were physical realities, imps were still something of a mystery. They rarely left Hell at all and if they did, it was as some high muckity-demon's property. None of the research ever mentioned an independent imp, for all the gods' sakes.
He could always ask Heck questions, but he hated bringing up his years as a sex slave. It wasn't even that he had to know anything.
"Just want to understand him better," Mac murmured as he started searching again. He'd turned off the voice assistant on his reader long ago because of his tendency to mutter at it.
IMP: A Study in Scarlet turned out to be erotic fetish fiction. The Secret Life of Imps read like a handbook of lies demons had told some poor human researcher. The part where they could absorb iron to become magnetic kind of gave it away.
Lesser Denizens: Trolls, Goblins and Imps looked better researched, though again imps only got a thin chapter.
Two major sub-species of imp inhabit the precincts of Hell: the common or pit imp and the more sought-after and carefully bred palace imp. Pit imp physiology tends toward skeletally thin, with larger claws and teeth than the palace imp. Additionally, they generally lack wings and have been observed with solid earth tone and piebald coloring. The palace imp is a more refined creature and can be said to be more classically handsome by demon standards. Coloration ranges from dusky rose to brilliant scarlet and breeders prefer those with matching horn, hoof and wing coloration…
"They're not prize piglets, you jerk," Mac growled at the writing. Though, yeah, the researcher probably got his information from higher level demons who did see imps that way.
There was a section on proper care and housing, including hoof and horn care, a brief section on the reproductive cycle (nothing Mac didn't already know – yes, imps were hatched), and a section on dietary needs. Mac felt guilty reading such a racist piece that talked about all this under the heading of husbandry, but it was more information than in any of the other research he'd found.
Imps are omnivorous by necessity. They can, and do, eat anything and gravitate toward sweets whenever possible. But keep firmly in mind that imps are obligate carnivores and require a certain percentage of meat in their diets…
"Huh. I didn't know that." It explained why Heckle went on weird meat binges some days, though. He really needed to keep a better eye on that.
Mac took his whiskey and his reader and left the galley to head to their cabin. Since he was sipping and reading as he walked, he smacked right into Verin as they both turned a corner.
"Hey, sorry Ver. My fault."
Verin snorted at him and was about to walk off when Mac caught his arm. "What the fuck, Big Mac?"
"Quick question. You ever have this?" He turned the screen to show Verin the advertisement he'd pulled up.
Verin eyed him suspiciously, steam rising from his nostrils. "Yeah. Why?"
"Did you like it? Do all demons like it?"
"Ha. His royal pain in the ass hates the stuff." Verin shrugged. "I like it sometimes. The little twerps, you know, all the damn goblins and imps and shit, they go fucking nuts for it."
Mac patted Verin's shoulder absently as he let him go. "Thanks."
When he got to his cabin, he closed the door. "Ms. Ivana? I'd like to order a couple of cases of something. My private account, not the ship's. Can we do that without it showing up in ship's inventory?"
"Oh, honey, of course we can. You think Captain Cute Buns has his private liquor reserves listed where everyone can see?"
"Perfect. I'd like to order two cases of Silas Orange's Candied Beef Jerky, please."