Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Story A Day - Field Of Blood

Continuing with May's story-a-day, I am posting a short story by author, Samantha Long. It's basically a prelude to  her series, The Guardians, which tells a fascinating tale of the fight between good and evil. I was completely captivated by the short story and can't wait to read the other books in the series.  Enjoy!!


Prologue

           

            Sand blew in his face, and he knew that it was the start of his torture for betraying his Master.  Guilt clawed at his insides, making every step harder.  The sun blared bright, and blister welled up on his skin.  Water was a thing of the past.  He knew he wouldn't be blessed with the cool, lifesaving liquid. 

            He had no idea how long he'd been walking.  He knew only that he was trying to outrun emotions, events, that he'd instigated. He now wished, desperately, that he'd never  set eyes on his Master.  That he hadn't given that fateful kiss.  He could still taste the salty sweat from the other's cheek.

            Now the demons of his guilt and the angels of his shame were taunting him.

            No one cares if you live or die.  Do it.  End your misssssery.

            The side of his face twitched.  He blinked rapidly to dismiss the thoughts shredding through his brain.  It was no use.  He was no longer favored.  The demons had complete access to him.

            He didn't have the strength to fight them.  Not after wandering through the desert for days.  They shrieked at him, battering at him to bleed, to enjoy the misery of the one he betrayed. 

            A lone tree with black branches rose out of the blistering sand. 

            It was out of place and yet it called to him.  The whispers went into a frenzy. 

            Death.  Pain.  Betrayal. 

            He felt the despair and misery swallow him.

            End it.  End the misssssery.

            It would be his act of absolution.  If he did this, the Holy Father would forgive him.  He'd be allowed to join his Master in Heaven and they would accept him with open arms.  All the pain and betrayal he'd wrought would be forgotten.

            At the base of the tree lay a puddle of rope, rough and thick.  He knew instinctively what to do with it.  Using his blistered hands he fastened the rope into a noose and tied the end of it to the lowest branch.  When he fit the noose around his neck, it settled like a heavy collar.  One of servitude.

            If he had been in the right state of mind, he would've known that there was no logical way for the branch to hold him, and to have been high enough to cut off his air.  But he believed in the power of God, in the One he wronged, and knew that it wouldn't matter with the logical.

            The noose tightened, cutting red marks deep into his neck.  His feet left the ground, the length of the rope shortening, and soon his feet dangled in the air.  He gasped, the agony of not being able to suck in oxygen blinded him.

            It took him several hours to die.  He was not granted a quick death.

            As he drew his last breath, the pupils dilating as his soul sucked out, carrion birds were already shrieking their enthusiasm for the new meal.

            His soul, black with his misdeed, exploded from his mouth.  The rope snapped and his body was heaved onto the hard, cracked earth with the force of an earthquake.  The ground splintered out from the lone tree, the earth groaning with the impact.

            Judas's body split open.  His blood and entrails leaked out upon the ground. The liquid boiled, a burst of sulfur shot into the air. The screams of Hell rose with it. One blackened hand, followed by another grabbed the sand on the outside of the liquid. Slowly, painfully, it heaved itself out and into the sand.

            Akeldama was born.

One


            Footsteps sound in the darkness outside the cell they keep me in. I almost hunch back in the filth behind me, against the wall, but I remind myself that I don't want to be the victim anymore. I don't want to hunker down in my own waste.

            My scales ripple in fear whenever the key scrapes the lock and light is cast into the small, windowless room. Once my eyes painfully adjust to the light, I see the worst of my owners, Drake, is the one bringing my sorry excuse for a breakfast.

            One piece of bread.

            I resist the urge to throw it back in his face. I'm a demon. With sharp teeth. These aren't used for bread.

            "Filth." Drake spits at me. He takes a step closer and laughs as I flinch. I can't help it, and I hate myself for it. "Today you help Tomariel round up the vampire young that has escaped."

            I wonder if they've planned this. They both know that I'm not strong enough to fight a newborn vampire. I'm barely strong enough to pull against the chains they've got me bound in.

            "If you live through this, we'll have to think of something else to do with you. Tomariel may like using your body for his needs, but I would rather have you gone. Dead, if possible. Just because you were born from the blood of the Betrayer, doesn't mean that we should bow to you. You are nothing, a shriveling piece of shit beneath our feet." The venom in his words hits me, mentally pushing me to hunch in on myself.

            I stare at the floor, wishing I'd never spoken a word. Moments after my existence began, after I was formed from Judas' blood hitting the dirt on that hill, the words had repeated in my mind. A bloody litany, a command to rule the demons, to make them bow to me.

            Unfortunately, the demons in this realm didn't take kindly to my words, fearing me. Still weak from dragging myself from Hell, I couldn't fight them off. They sold me into slavery, forcing me to do degrading and menial tasks, not feeding me. Kept me too feeble to fight back. I can't remember how long I'd been forced into this existence, at least a few thousand years. Allowing Tomariel to use my body in any way he wanted and Drake to lash out at me when he was angry, which is all the time.

            My conscious mind surrenders to the realization that I may not last survive one more day, one more hour.

            Drake pulls on the chain around my neck and jerks me forward. I scramble to my hands and knees, my scales scraping the floor. I ignore the pain as he leads me out of the cell. I've grown accustomed the barbaric treatment.

            The hallways are pitch dark, lit only by the torch he carries. He makes sure to leave plenty of length in the chain so that I walk several paces behind him. My eyes roam over his is tall and solidly built form, a rage demon with grotesque fists and thick arms. His craggy face wears a permanent scowl. A creature of this magnitude is impossible to conquer and he knows it. I lack the fortitude to do so.

            Leading me upstairs to the main level, I keep my eyes on the dirt floor and stand still at his command. As much as I loathe him, I refrain from igniting his temper.

            Another demon, a pretty little siren, curtsies as he strides into the next room. He has no fear of her song, since he cut out her tongue the first minute she arrived. Her gorgeous blue eyes flicker over me, hatred seething from her eyes.

            A small spark of anger flares to life inside me. How dare she hate me when she is in the same predicament I am? She is not better than I am. A whore slave. I am so much more than she is.

            Then I remember that those thoughts landed me in this situation. I drop my eyes back to the floor, watching maggots weave in and out of the soil until the anger evaporates. My pulse slows and every breath is a struggle.

            Drake returns, followed by Tomariel. Standing beside Drake, Tomariel resembles a god. His golden hair falls perfectly and his violet eyes are warm with seduction. Being an Incubus, his stoic demeanor naturally draws in his prey, targeting their sexual energy. Resentment boils inside me as I remember my inability to resist him. No matter how hard I try.

            "Akeldama, follow me." Tomariel ignores the chain. He knows the sound of his voice will lure me anywhere he wants to go.

            I feel the pull, try to ignore it, but it's useless. My feet respond.

            We walk out into the night, the ever present moon glowing bright. There is no sun in the demon realm, which makes it harder for us to capture the vampire newborns. They roam about, never sleeping or resting. The rest of the village is going about their business, and many of them shoot me hateful glares, like I'm the vilest thing they've ever laid eyes on. Tomariel whistles for the horse and a massive black stallion rides up.

            "Come, Akeldama." His smoky voice mesmerizes me and he extends a hand.

            Bile rises in my throat even as the heat starts in my body. When his tan hand wraps around the scales of my own, I feel the need rise.

            I hate myself for this.

            I know what's coming next. What we're going to do before we hunt for the newborns. After he seats me in front of him, his arms wrap around me.

            The stallion leaps into a gallop and I feel that small moment of freedom as we eat up the countryside of the small village. I don't know where we're going and I don't care. I'm out of that hole. The wind whips through my hair. The nubs where my wings used to be twitch.

            Damn Drake and his need to permanently alter each of his slaves, taking the one thing each desperately needed.

            I never even got the chance to fly. I imagine how that would feel and instantly shut the thought process down. Far in the distance I see one of the cities gleaming with torch and lantern lights. What would it be like to live in such luxury? Having everything I want, whenever I want it?

            Tomariel pulls the stallion to a halt. We've stopped by his favorite place, a hot spring surrounded by boulders.

            My scales undulate, a mixture of anticipation and shame.

            Tomariel lifts me off the horse. His eyes turn red with lust and he pushes me toward the boulders.

            I can't resist.

            Fabric tears as he rips my burlap dress off and turns me toward the boulder. I hear him unzip his pants.

            Darkness overcomes me as he begins to feed on the lust I match to his.

            I drift between consciousness and darkness. I taste blood and my entire body aches but I can't remember anything but that Tomariel used me in a manner that is more violent than usual. The worst pain is between my legs. I can hear him bathing in the stream and hatred so intense rises that I have to choke it back before he realizes. The hatred isn't only for him. Much of it is directed at my own lust.

            Akeldama.

            At first I think Tomariel is calling to me from the stream. My lips move but no sound comes out.

            Akeldama.

            It hits me that the voice is not Tomariel's. It is far more seductive. The pull I feel toward it is a thousand times stronger than his. Who calls me?

            I am your master.

            Lucifer? He can't reach me from the Rift. It's impossible.

            Agony coils inside of me, greater than I've ever felt. My back arches off the grass and my face twists. Images whirl through my mind. I can't scream out loud but I know I am in my mind.

            I am your master.

            Y-yes. M-master. I see and feel the truth. He is the one I must follow.

            The pain recedes. Behind it comes a strange numbness. The pain is gone.

            Follow me and I will make you powerful. You will no longer be their slave, but their Queen. My queen.

            I bask in the glorifying numbness that permeates my body. It has been a very long time since I was without it.

            Follow me. Be my Queen.

             There is a void, an emptiness that follows the voice but I ignore it. I can be a Queen. I can finally do what I was made to do. Rule over these stupid, bastard demons. I will be your Queen.

            Good. With the voice came a cold satisfaction. All you have to do is listen to the steps. You can do what your will with your brethren here, but after that, I have a task for you.

            A task?

            The Guardians.

            The hatred he feels for whoever these Guardians are rushes over me. It invades me until it is my own. They must die.

            They are the only ones who can stop you from releasing me.

            I will destroy them, Master.

           

Chapter Two


            After a few moments basking in numbness, I sit up. I feel no pain but see the deep wounds Tomariel has left on my body. I watch as he finishes bathing in the stream. What caused his unusual violence tonight? Sadistic tendencies don't suit him.

            No matter. I will rid myself of them soon. I will rid myself of all of them.

            Tomariel approaches. Keeping up with the pretense that I was in terrible pain, I whimper. He crouches down when he reaches me. "Ah, Akeldama. I have never gotten so much energy from you. How is that possible?"

            I nearly sneer at the gluttonous look on his face. It was all great for him, wasn't it? He reveled in his meal. Well, soon I would, also.        

            It is not time for him to die yet. There is someone you have to meet first.

            The Master is silent after that. I force myself to act injured, to hobble to the horse even when so much power courses through me.

            Tomariel grasps my arm and yanks me onto the horse, seating me in front of him. He wants me to suffer.

            I will pretend to suffer.

            The stallion takes us out further into the fields, to where a group of villagers spotted the group of newborns. Rumors flew that the newborns were capturing and eating other species' young.

            I didn't care. They had to eat, right?

            Tomariel pulls the horse to a stop at the entrance to a wooded area at the base of a volcano. The volcano rises high above us, stretching into the starry sky. No sounds came from the woods. No animals of the demon realm made themselves known.

            That means there is a nest hidden in the woods somewhere.

            Newborns are vulnerable because they have no allegiance to any major factions. They are perfect for capture since no one will complain if the slavers take unallied demons.

            I cringe as Tomariel shoves me from the horse. Even though I feel no pain, it ignites my temper.

            "Go. I will follow behind you. The fact that you're bleeding is perfect."

            I feel his heated gaze on my back as I hobble toward the opening of the forest. It is how it happens every time. I am to be bait.

            That is fine. I need time away from him to think. It doesn't occur to me that this time I am actually feeling well enough to escape. I could run. But I won't. The Master granted me the power to seek my revenge. Even now, as I step into the forest with its gnarled branches and dark shadows, I can feel the power coursing through me. Giving me life. Giving me my revenge.

            Oh, it will be bloody.

            The thought of taking out my anger on Drake, instead of the other way around, made my breathing ragged.

            I walk further, and as soon as I am sure that the forest hides me, I lose my limp and straighten. My eyes roam over the trees and shadows, but see nothing out of the ordinary.

            The nest is probably burrowed into the side of the volcano. It would make them feel safer to be underground, in darkness. Most of the newborns came from the human realm and it takes them time to get used to the fact that the sun never shines here. They have nothing to fear from that aspect.

            The silence doesn't bother me as I continue to walk. This new found freedom is exhilarating.

            I can’t wait to see what the nights have in store now.

            From behind me I feel Tomariel step onto the beginning of the path. It is like I can sense the blood pumping in his veins, the sound of his body moving. My fangs lengthen.

            Another rush of exhilaration shoots through me. My fangs haven't come out since my creation. There is an undeniable urge to use them.

            It will have to wait until after this business with the newborns is over. Somehow I know that. It doesn't take long for me to reach the volcano after that. The anticipation of getting my revenge spurs me into moving faster.

            The forest disappears around me and I reach the base.

            The volcano is covered in hard black rock and dirt. No lava drains out, the volcano is asleep. My new power automatically reaches out and searches the catacombs of the volcano. It takes a few minutes to come upon anything.

            Several newborns comprise the nest. They are still asleep, not used to the swapped times here in the demon realm.

            Tomariel will expect me to stand here and draw them out, but I am eager to use my new power. To see how it works before it is time to attack my owners.

            I go inside the catacombs.

            It is dark and musty inside, smelling of dank places. I travel the tunnels slowly, reveling in my freedom. I feel no hurry. Following my senses, I come to a large cavern.

            It isn't hard to spot the nest. They are sleeping in a corner, piled together, clothes tattered. Their faces are abnormally beautiful, like the incubus and siren, to attract their prey. Sleeping, they are like angels.

            How hard it must be for them to wake up in this realm, sleeping in caves like animals.

            A single newborn is heading down the tunnel opposite me. I know it will reach the cavern soon.

            Time to try out my power.

            I let it swell in me. My pupils shrink to slits and my talons sharpen. I run my tongue over my fangs. With a blood lust I know I have, but never awakened, I pounce on the closest newborn.

            He wakes with a cry and tries to push me off. I growl and rake my talons down his chest. It splits open, splattering blood and bone on my scales.

            I rip his heart out.

            It takes only a few more minutes to do it to the rest. I am in a frenzy, licking the blood, feeling my hunger increase. I destroy them, ripping each heart out.

            I feel more alive than I ever had.

            "How lovely."

            The angelic voice floats through my blood lust. I turn and cock my head, holding a heart in my hands. There is the other newborn I'd sensed. She stands still, looking much like the siren with blond, wavy hair and blue eyes. She has creamy skin and voluptuous curves to tempt any man to bed. She isn't angry that I attacked her nest. When she bows, I tense, until she says, "My Queen. The Master called me to serve you."

            I stare at the blood on my talons, then hold out my hand.

            She approached cautiously. I see the red come over her eyes and the fangs that pop out. We really are alike. I watch silently. She brings my hand to her mouth and licks the blood from my scales.

            "I am here to serve you. Forever." She gestures to her dead nest mates. "I haven't fed today. May I?"

            I incline my head. "What is your name?"

            "Cairo. My name is Cairo."

Chapter Three


            I watch Cairo feed on her dead nest mates and ponder what I will do to Tomariel once he reaches us. Will he be frightened once he realizes that I can overtake him? Use him like he uses me? They had owned me, tortured me for thousands of years. So many times I had been beaten and raped, left to try and heal in that small prison in their basement. I couldn't count the times that I'd been bloody and raw from Tomariel's treatment.

            It takes me a minute but I force the horrible memories back. I am now able to make better ones, memories where I will be powerful.

            Cairo growls and tears into the newborns' throats.

            Maybe I can share Tomariel with her. I've never had someone beneath me before. Is that what you do?

            The power inside me, I'm still not used to it, reaches out without my push and I feel Tomariel's energy. It is bright from our encounter earlier, and he is getting close.

            My scales ripple in anticipation. I can practically taste his blood and flesh in my mouth. I smile.

            "Cairo."

            The girl straightens, her angelic face marred by the dark red blood smeared across her chin and lips. Her normally blue eyes are fully red. I must've interrupted her blood lust.

            Oh well. We have better things to deal with.

            "Tomariel is getting close. This is what I want you to do."

v

            When Tomariel walks into the cavern, I make sure to act like I am still in pain. I hunkered down on the floor, making sure he can see the wounds he's inflicted on me. I avert my face and stare at the floor.

            Cairo stands above me, blood lust still in her eyes.

            I know how he sees it. I am captured by Cairo, her dead nest mates littering the ground behind us. Cairo will be the threat he is looking at. Not me.

            It will be his last mistake.

            "Well, well. Akeldama, it seems you'll finally be out of our hair." He takes a few more steps into the cavern, eyeing Cairo. "Although, that last session we had brought forth a lot of energy for me. I may have to fight the newborn for you."

            Cairo smirks. "You can try."

            "Hungry, I take it? Your nest mates good?" Tomariel sauntered closer. So sure of his power. I just want him a little bit closer. I want to see the surprise in his eyes.

            Cairo shrugs. "They were okay. I'm looking forward to tasting an Incubus though. I hear the blood is sensual." She purrs the last word.

            I feel even myself responding. I glance up and see the lust in Tomariel's eyes. I make myself push down the relief that it isn't pointed at me. I don't have to fear him anymore. I am a Queen. The Queen.

            With that thought, I stand, letting the glamour of pain fall from my body.

            Tomariel frowns. "What?"

            My hands shoot out and wrap around his throat. His eyes bulge as I lift him off the floor. "Oh, Tomariel." I sneer at him, letting all the hatred and rage I'd ever felt boil up within me. "You will no longer use my body. You will no longer feed from my energy."

            I crush his neck, practically severing the head. The bones crunch, and tendons and muscle drip down my arms. I frown when I notice he isn't breathing anymore. "That went faster than I wanted it to."

            "You don't know your own strength right now. You will learn, milady." Cairo watches as I toss the body onto the pile behind us.

            I am unfulfilled. I wanted to torture him, use him like he used me. Eat his energy up. Cairo sees my smirk and smiles.

            "Don't worry. There will be plenty more to torture. You'll get used to your strength and power and will be able to draw it out."

            I hope so.

            I lead the way out of the cave. When we reach the opening, we find the black stallion tied to a nearby tree.

            "Feel like a ride?" I ask.

            "Definitely."

            After we mount, her seated behind me, I steer the horse toward home.

            Enjoy the meal you have ahead of you, my Queen. I want to satisfy your need for revenge against these peasants.

            That strange vacuum feeling envelopes me, filling me with icy cold. It isn't unpleasant to me. I am used to feeling pain constantly.

            I will take more time with Drake. I'm going to make sure he feels every amount of pain he made me suffer through. And maybe I will make him feel the pain Tomariel pushed on me also, since I didn't get to have my way with him.

            A few demons are moving about the land as we pass. I feel their ignorant stares on my back but ignore them. They are beneath my notice now. I will deal with them later.

            As we approach the house, my former prison, I notice that the moonlight seemed to expand over the yard, like it is pointing my way.

            "This is where they kept you, milady?"

            I hear the thinly veiled anger in her voice. It is weird to have someone care. "Yes. In the basement. A dungeon."

            "They will pay." She hisses.

            We let the horse go after we dismount. I go to the front door but stop before stepping inside. This place had been my home for my life so far. It was privy to my darkest, most humiliating moments. Nostalgia wants to wrap me up but I crush it with rage instead. We step inside.

            I know form my power that Drake is in the back, with the siren. Apparently he doesn't need my body for those types of needs. Only for his fists. I gesture to Cairo and lead the way down the hallway.

            The grunts and moans that filter out from the closed door are animalistic. He is obviously enjoying his last few moments of existence.

            To get the most of the moment, to really shock him, I focus my power on the door. It explodes inward, shards of wood flying into the room. The siren screams and leaps off from where she is straddling Drake.

            "What the hell?" Drake sits up and glares at the door. His Neanderthal forehead is covered in sweat. He eyes the splinters and planks of wood scattered across the floor. Confusion twists across his face when he sees me and Cairo in the doorway. "Akeldama, don't piss me off, bitch."

            His angry tone has no effect on me. I am the one with the power. "Shut up."

            Drake starts at the venom in my voice. I normally speak with fear. His anger rises and he starts to get off the bed.

            "No, darling." I pin him to the bed, making sure my power pushes on him. "You are going to stay right there."

            The siren whimpers where she cowers in the corner, folding in on herself. She can feel the power pulsating off of me.

            "Cairo, are you still hungry?"

            Cairo steps forward, eyeing the girl. "Oh, I can always eat some more."

            The girl shakes her head violently. She covers her face with her hands, not worrying about her naked body.

            Cairo attacks swiftly, her fangs sinking deep into the girl's jugular.

            "Don't harm the body in any other way. I have a use for it." I make sure Cairo understands. Cairo nods.  

            I turn my attention back to where Drake is pinned. His eyes are round with the beginnings of true fear. I remind myself not to rush. I want to savor the pain I am about to cause him.


Chapter Four


            So that I won’t have to concentrate on keeping him pinned to the bed, I have Cairo go find some rope to tie him down. While she is gone, I watch Drake begin to sweat.

            "How?"

            I lean against the bedpost and cross my arms. My eyes roam over his naked body. "I told you I was a queen. You refused to listen. Now my master has given me the power to take my revenge. To use you like you used me." It takes me a minute to realize I am no longer against the bed post, but leaning over him instead.

            Fear makes his eyes round and he tries to scoot to the other side of the bed. He whimpers when I turn away. I have to keep myself under control. I can't lose my temper and kill him quickly. My eyes land on the body of the siren. I need it but I'm not sure why.

            Wear her skin. You can blend in with the humans that way. You can hunt the Guardians and they will not know you.

            How do I do it? I take a few steps closer. Is it going to hurt?

            Just place your hands on her head and I will do the rest.

            I do as I am told. The numbness overcomes me. My body snaps and twists, contorting to fit in the siren's body. When it is finished, I look down. My hands are creamy white and smooth. My body moves with a sensual grace I don't have to practice.

            Drake is in full horror mode now. He no longer tries to talk to me, only makes sniveling noises. A pungent smell alerts me to the fact that he's pissed himself.

            All the better. I want him truly afraid. More than that I need him that way. His fear  makes the hunger claw at my insides.

            "I've got the rope, milady." Cairo stops short when she sees my new skin. Her smile widens. "I can smell it's you, but you look just like her." She peers behind me to where the body is supposed to be.

            "The Master taught me how to use her body as a way to travel unseen in the human world."

            "Amazing." Cairo holds up the rope. "Are you ready?"

            "I am."

            She uses her superior strength to tie Drake's extremities to the bedposts. She uses every opportunity to brush herself against him.

            I watch him harden with disinterest. I don't need him for that. I want to cause him pain. Degrade him. When Cairo finishes, I release him from my power. He starts to struggle. "Stop." I giggle, ecstatic with our reversed roles. "You are not going anywhere."

            Cairo giggles with me and clasps her hands. She seems okay just watching me get my revenge.

            I wander closer to the bed, slowly so that I can savor every quivering of fear in his body. Now I understand how he and Tomariel enjoyed using my body for different reasons. My newfound blond, wavy hair falls to my breasts and I know that my blue eyes are red. I am ready for this.

            My nails sharpen just a bit into my original talons. I trail them up his bare legs, leaving deep scratches that redden instantly. He whimpers again and I smile. I am really going to love this. "You know, you used your brute strength over me. Constantly. When I was already bruised and bleeding from Tomariel's bouts, you would hit me and kick me, throw me. All to satisfy your little temper tantrums."

            Cairo stands silently now, watching with wide pupils.

            Drake shakes his head. I'm not sure if it is denial or pleading. I really don't care.

            The satisfaction coursing through me is intense. The fear arouses me, feeding a hunger I have now discovered. I have found my purpose, why I was created. It is amazing.

            As Drake and Cairo both watch me, I start to break the bones in his fingers, then his hands, making my way up his arms. Each time he cries out in pain, it fills a place inside me.

            I take my time. I break bones, strip his skin. Pull his nails out and pull his teeth. I let Cairo bite him in several places, drawing blood with burning fire. I cut off his manhood, gauge out his eyes, and finally, when I am completely satisfied, I rip out his heart.

            "Here." I toss it carelessly to Cairo. "This should fill you up."

            Cairo inclines her head. Then she feeds from it.

            I walk out of the room. I suddenly have the urge to leave this place. To go. To fulfill my duty to my Master. Hatred for the Guardians burns through my veins, the beginnings of a fiery obsession.

            The quicker I destroy them, the quicker I can release my king and rule the demons and humans alike. Maybe I can even destroy the high and mighty angels I've heard about but never seen.

            I know they think just because they have the Light that they are better. That they deserve their lofty status. Not if I can help it. A quick jolt of jealousy hits me. What is it like to feel the warmth of the Light? To not feel the frost of the darkness rake your insides constantly?

            I tear that longing apart and bury it deep. Deep where no one can see it. Deep where I will forget it. I am going to be Queen of the darkness. I can't long to feel warmth or the Light.

    

Five


            Travel back to the caves of the volcano. It is time for you to go to the human realm.

             Now that I've tasted the sweet blood of revenge, I am ready to fulfill my master's bidding.  These Guardians make Lucifer angry and I want to use my powers on them. I am drunk on the headiness of being more powerful than the other demons, than the fragile humans. It is a liquor in my blood, a fire in my body.

            We leave what is left of Drake behind and start back. Cairo is smiling gleefully, happy to be returning to the world from where she was turned. She has her own revenge to dole out.

            Other demons are coming out of their homes. They must have heard Drake's screams.

            "Hello, darlings." I am still wearing the siren's skin and feel sensuous and lithe. A few of the demons' stares turn hot. I pull my lips back from my fangs. The stares turn cold with fear. "You didn't think I would welcome your advances now, did you? After you mocked me from being born of the blood of the Betrayer? No. You will suffer."

            They shrink back. Cairo eyes them with a bored stare. She is full from her meals.

            "Not today, though." I tilt my head to the side and revel in their terror. "When I return, I will come for all that slighted me."

            With that, we leave the village behind. I'm not sure how long I'll be gone, but I will remember what they did to me. We head back toward the volcano, passing through fields. The cities still burn bright in the distance. I vow to see them when I return.

            The volcano rises high over the forest. It holds the gateway portal for demons to pass back and forth between the demon realm and the human one. Cairo leads the way since she knows where it is, having been through it with her maker and the others of her nest.

            The portal is tall and wide, shimmering with a light that is golden and warm. Is this how it is in the human realm? All warmth and sunshine?

            Not if I can help it. I will bring the iciness of the darkness. Once I've freed Lucifer from his cage the humans, demons, and angels alike will bow. We will rule all the realms.

            Cairo approaches the portal. She looks back at me with an arched brow. "Milady?"

            I nod, although I cannot take my eyes from the shimmering lights in front of us. What would the sunlight feel like against my skin? Or the skin of the siren I wear? Cairo steps through the portal, wide eyed. I can tell that she is ready to be home.

            Go. Destroy our enemies and then release me.

            With his words in my mind, I step closer and then reach out and touch the lights. They dance around my hand harmlessly. I frown. The lights do not feel warm to my skin.

            I am not supposed to care about the warmth, I remind myself ruthlessly. There is nothing for me to do with it. I will reign in the cold darkness. I must embrace it.

            I step through.

v

            It has been several weeks since I've crossed through the portal into the human realm. According the Master's plan, I've infiltrated the Guardian's home, their confidences. The Oracle trusts me as I've taken over the body of a sister priestess. Watching them move around, fall in love, live their lives grated on everything that I am.

            But now it is time to start our plan.

            Cairo and I wander on the beach of the Guardian's island, following the five year old princess of the neighboring kingdom. I plan to start a war between them to keep the armies busy so that I may take over this pitiful place.

            "Look." Cairo points. "There the princess plays. And so late at night."

            I turn my head from the water. "She is so small, and fragile."

            The girl is crouched down in the sand, searching for something. The innocence of her laughter as it floats on the breeze kicks my blood lust into high gear. I have to restrain myself as it reaches us. She has porcelain skin and a mass of curly brown hair that is loose around her shoulders.

            "I can see the blood rushing through her veins." Cairo's fangs pop out.

            Mine react the same but I know what I have to do. "We will use her as a message for the Guardians."

            "We want to warn them?"

            I shake my head and watch the little girl play. "We want them to fear."

            Cairo pouts. "She smells so sweet."

            I start toward the girl. "You can dine on someone else tonight."

            The girl looks up with the biggest, bluest eyes I've ever beheld. The purity coming off of her makes my restraint weak.

            As I am wearing the priestess, the girl doesn't seem to fear me. For now.

            "Hello." She smiles. "Papa says that nighttime is the best time to hunt for crabs."

            "Nighttime is the best for hunting." I crouch down next to her and notice the pendant around her neck. "What a beautiful necklace."

            She looks down. "Papa gave it to me so everyone would know I am a princess. I am safe when I wear this. No others will harm me." She smiles. "My name is Annabelle."

            "It's nice to meet you, Annabelle." I stand and let my body shed the look of the priestess.

            Annabelle's eyes go round with fear. The gasp that trembles through her young lips fires through me. Yes, she will do perfectly.
 ***


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