My ears rang with the shrill of her screams as I tried desperately to wash the blood off of my hands. I could still feel the warmth of her skin as she rested her head on my shoulder. Even with my eyes open, staring at the blood swirling down the drain, I could still see the trust behind her eyes as she tilted her head back, awaiting my kiss. I saw her love fade to shock and pain as she realized I was a monster. I heard her blood-curdling scream as I thrust my dagger deep into her heart. I watched as the light drifted away from her soul and into the sparkling silver of my dagger. I felt my blade grow with the power of darkness as the blackness of death fell upon her. Soon her screams subsided, her sporadic breathing ceased, her blood ran dry, her life stolen from her.
And I, consumed by the darkness of death, was the thief.
I suddenly became aware of my hands shaking. I felt nothing: no guilt, no regret, and no compassion. I’ve taken too many lives to allow myself to feel any shred of remorse. The debt I have to pay will never completely be fulfilled. Lying, cheating, killing—this was my life now. This was my duty. It was my responsibility, my honor, to capture the energy possessed by the Light Souls. Only the most privileged of Dark Souls have the capability to steal away the light. Light Souls possess a power that could destroy the world of the shadows, the world which took me in when I was shunned by both life and death. I have become the warrior of the night. The only emotion I felt was pride, pride in my killing.
But…my hands still shook.
Abruptly, a chilling breeze came in from the night and flung the cabin door open. With it, spilled across the floor, was the King of Shadows. Instantly, I knelt to the ground, bent my head low, and offered the power contained within my dagger.
“My king, I have captured the light. May this give you the undying power to control the darkness of the world,” I announced.
The rippling form on the floor simmered, drew nearer to me, and instantly billowed into the form of a man, hooded and cloaked in black. One long, thin, and bony hand stretched out of his dark sleeve and an even bonier finger ran along the sparkling blade.
“My dear Gabriel,” he whispered in a sinister voice. “I have come to you with grave news. I have become aware of a prophecy, a prophecy which could destroy the world of the Darkness, forever.” His thin finger slivered to the tip of the sharp dagger, but drew no blood.
“Gabriel, you must know, there has been an awakening. A power, a power stronger than all the Darkness combined. It resides in a single girl.” His red eyes glowed in hatred as I felt his anger grow. “Do you know what this means for our kind, my warrior?” his voice boomed.
A shiver crept down my spine as I further bent my head. “I do not know, my king. Tell me what it is you desire and I will do it.”
“You must understand,” his voice softened as he cast his chilling, red gaze down upon me. “If she awakens the magic within her, our realm amid the shadows, our power within the darkness, our world in which we live, it will forever be destroyed! Find her, Gabriel. Find her and destroy her, before she destroys us!” His deep voice echoed throughout the small cabin.
With his hand still lingering on the blade, the king bent down to whisper in my ear. I felt his frozen breath chill the skin on my neck. “My dear, loyal Gabriel, you truly are my most capable warrior,” he whispered. “Do not fail me.”
“By all of the strength I possess, I promise to find her and when I find her, I’ll destroy her.”
“I take comfort in your loyalty, my dear,” he said calmly, returning to his upright position. “However, I fear your strength alone may not suffice.” He looked down at me with eyes glowing, his grip tightening on the blade…
Instantly, he snatched the dagger from my hands and plunged the silver deep into my heart. I felt the white-hot fire of the sun scorch throughout my body as my heart struggled to find its next beat. I fell back against the hard wooden floor, gasping for air, desperately grasping for life.
The last thing I remember before my heart stopped beating was the King of Shadows disappearing into the cool darkness of the night.
The name Faye Johnson whispered in the wind.
I was jolted in every direction, my head bobbing up and down and my legs starting to flail as the ride jerked sideways, practically parallel with the ground. I felt my grasp begin to slip. Forcing myself to close my eyes, I saw the jagged rock of the steep mountain again. I knew that if I let go, it would mean the end for me. With one final jolt forward, I was flung off the bull, flying forward, speeding toward the deadly impact.
Only I didn’t hit the ground.
I wasn’t even touching the ground. I was floating above it. As I opened my eyes to see where I had landed, I found two beautiful, deep brown eyes gazing down upon me.
I had landed in the strong arms of a man, a really attractive man, too! He had dark brown, almost black hair, pale, white skin, full wine-red lips, and long, dark eyelashes that would make any girl envious. He held me with such ease. It was as if I weighed nothing more than a feather. He smelled of the woods, the earth, and the nighttime air. I couldn’t help but notice how good it felt to be in his arms. Suddenly, the blood rushed to my cheeks and a fog began to cloud my thoughts. Was it just me, or did his lips seem to curve into a smile after each sentence he spoke?
Faye! He’s talking to you!
“Are you all right, Blue Eyes?” he asked in a luxuriously deep voice.
It was smooth, like milk chocolate. It felt good to listen to him speak, but I made myself concentrate on his words in order to avoid looking and sounding like an idiot.
Off to a great start, Faye. Good job!
I jumped to my feet, feeling restless as my mind continued to speculate. He didn’t even know me. Why was he being such a major stalker? My rage tempted me to find him and demand he start answering my questions. But some sensible part reminded me that probably wouldn’t be a very good idea.
I took my frustration out on my pillow, slamming it against my wall and then falling face down on my bed. This helped me cool off a little bit. But thoughts of Gabe, Jack, and my weird connection with fire still danced in my head.
An idea occurred to me.
All this time, I was in my room, I had bought the candles, I had put them away. But none of them were lit! I got up from my bed, and made my way to the closest one.
“Light,” I commanded.
Nothing happened. The candle just sat there, perfectly untouched and brand new. I felt a little bit relieved. Maybe if my old one had been defective, then maybe everything else Jack and I had been worried about wasn’t true?
“Light!” I commanded again, a little bit more forcefully. Still nothing happened. Before giving up and giving into my endless pile of homework, I gazed at the candle and concentrated my focus.
I blocked out the sounds of the people in my hall, the cheers and laugher flowing in from my open window, and the smell of pizza originating from the dining hall around the corner. It was just me and the candle. We were the only two things in this world. It was just us.
It burst into flames!
I stumbled back against my bed, shocked. I had made the candle burn, without a lighter or matches. I did that: I’d lit it. How was that possible?
I felt the heat from my anger begin to boil my blood as I realized everything Jack and I were fearful of, was true. I was in trouble. I had no idea what I was, or what it meant. I had no idea why Gabe was stalking me. I had no answers and I didn’t know what to do or who could help me. All of my confusion just further fueled my anger. I felt myself begin to lose control. As my anger grew, so did the flame.
I stood up straight, a determination igniting in my veins. I might not have all the answers, but I sure as hell knew someone who did. Without thinking, I gave into temptation and ran out of my bedroom, down the hall, and burst through the front doors of the building. I ran past all of the buildings on Redstone Campus and into the surrounding woods. I felt the branches and leaves scrape against my skin, but still I kept running. I didn’t stop. Not until I was deep enough into the forest to find I was alone with the darkness.
He’ll come, I thought. Soon enough, he will find me.
Suddenly, he lifted me, boosting me above him and twirling me around in the winter night as the song came to a close. As if I weighed no more than a feather, he slowly lowered me until I was just inches above his face. I let my arms drape around his neck. He looked up at me with burning, passionate eyes. Those walls he so normally hid behind were nowhere to be found. I parted my lips and slowly closed my eyes, ready for his kiss.
A branch snapped in the forest surrounding us. Gabe and I immediately twisted our heads in the direction of the sound.
“Stay here,” he ordered as he gently placed me down and cautiously made his way to the edge of the tree line.
“What is it?” I whisper-shouted after him. “Do you see anything?”
Gabe crouched down low and peered into the forest, his Dark Soul eyes seeing into the depths of the shadows better than my normal human eyes.
“No. I don’t see anything,” he answered. “But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing out there.” I heard a cool chill behind his words, which unsettled me.
“Maybe it was an animal?” I offered.
“Maybe.” His voice trailed off. “Either way, we need to get back inside.”
“FAYE!” I heard someone scream. I spun around just in time to see Jack frantically running across the street, his arms flailing.