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Second Chances (WIP)

Guest KittyGoesMew

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Guest KittyGoesMew
Ok, this is a story I started a couple weeks ago. I'll post here what I've already typed and then I'll start updating it weekly. And btw, feel free to tell me watcha think bout this!

[u][b]Chapter One[/b][/u]

I strode purposefully through the dark streets, searching. There. I turned sharply, whispering a spell of invisibility. Of course I didn?t need it, but I had to take precautions. I walked up to the man from behind, stepping lightly and quickly. A word, and I tightly gripped the handle of a conjured dagger. Lifted up my arm, brought it down. Both man and dagger disappeared.

A small child, maybe five, fell to the ground. She touched a hand to her neck. Blood dripped from her fingers. I helped her up, gently turned her head to the side. Two deep holes in her neck. Not from a vampire though. The girl cried out as something swooped down behind me. So there were more. I whirled to face it, plunging a conjured dagger into its heart. Both disappeared.

?You?re no amateur.? I turned slowly to face the third and last demon. One of his hands covered the girl?s mouth. The other arm kept her still. He opened his mouth to say more, but I smirked and whispered one word.

Strong arms were wrapped around me from behind, forcing my arms to my sides. The girl stood a few feet away in the same place I had just stood, unharmed except for her neck. I smiled. The demon probably did, too.

?That?s a death wish.? Fangs sunk into my neck. Then a yell of pain, as a conjured dagger sunk into his side. His arms loosened; I spun to sink the last dagger in his heart. The wounds in my neck healed as fast as he died.

I turned back to the girl. ?Come here.? She obeyed, hesitantly. She didn?t speak; she was too shocked. I laid my fingers on the holes in her neck, healing her as well. Then I turned to leave. ?Don?t tell anyone. Ever.?

I leaned against a tree, shaded by its branches. Watching the town kids play. Heart aching. Watching their faces for smiles. Watching the sparkling eyes. I turned and left, unseen. Wishing I could turn back time. Wishing I could?ve enjoyed such a simple thing. Wishing I could?ve played. Wishing I could?ve felt joy. Wishing I had actually had a true childhood.

Footsteps broke through my thoughts. I spun quickly, a dagger appearing in my hand. The dagger disappeared as my eyes met those of a small girl. ?What are you doing here?? I had cast a spell of invisibility. Was it weak? Were my skills suddenly fading? Nobody else had seen me.

?I never got to thank you last night.? She touched her neck. ?I?ve never seen you around here before. Did you just move here?? I shook my head. How could she possibly understand?

?I?ve lived here for a long time.? She frowned. ?I live out of town.? She nodded. That would explain it for her.

?How?d you heal me?? she asked innocently. ?And how come you don?t have holes in your neck?? I thought quickly, opened my mouth. Prepared to tell her it was magic. Then a small thought crossed my mind.

?I can heal myself. My blood can just heal me right away. I gave you some of my blood.? Her eyes widened.

?Through your fingers?? I nodded.

?That?s why you could see me. I turned myself invisible, but because you had some of my blood, you could see me.?

?Weird?? I couldn?t just let her experiment with this newfound power by herself.

?I think you have a special gift,? I started, choosing my words carefully. ?Before you even had my blood. But? I think you need someone to show you how to use it.
Would you like me to teach you?? She nodded enthusiastically.

And so I began training a 5-year-old girl named Ashley. I revealed nothing of myself to her, telling her that she?d find out when she was as good as me. She tried hard, often performing things well the first time she tried. She agreed with me that this should all be kept secret.

Soon she could become invisible, she could conjure nearly anything, and her reflexes were excellent. And then, when she was about 13, she commented that she wanted to be a ?demon buster? too. I laughed and told her she had a long way to go before she could be that. I also suggested that she might want to be something else, like a doctor or something. But no, even in high school she insisted that she wanted to work with me. And so I became her trainer and her practice dummy, showing her the tricks of the trade and letting her try them on me over and over again. When she was about 16, I decided she needed to go a step farther.

It was a quiet night, the perfect night for her to take that step. I disguised myself as a demon male and slipped in her window, until I was standing over her sleeping form. A clawed hand covered her mouth tightly. That was enough. Her eyes flew open. She paused for a moment, getting her bearings, before plunging a dagger into my gut. It disappeared, as did my disguise.

?Excellent, but you were just a little slow.? Her eyes widened.

?You?? I smiled.

?Yes, me. But if you really want to be a demon buster, you have to be alert at all times.?

?But I need my sleep!? I nodded.

?Yes, but you need to train your mind to be alert at all times, even when you?re asleep. I shouldn?t have even been able to touch your window without waking you.?


?We?ll work on it tomorrow. For now, good night.?

I tested her several more times. Each time, she woke faster. Each time, she killed me. Or she would?ve, if I had been a human. She needed to advance more. She knew that as well, for she was constantly asking me when she could start helping me. So when she was 17, I began waiting for the perfect opportunity.

It was a clear night when it came. I smiled and became invisible.

[i]Ashley, wake up.[/i]
[i]There?s a demon at the park.[/i]

I sensed her jump out of bed immediately, quietly. She kept to the shadows on her way, as I had taught her, but to any airborne demon she was a sitting duck. I watched from a distance as the demon overhead spotted prey. It swept down, toward her. I moved closer, convinced that she would pass this test but ready in case she didn?t.

She heard the swooping of wings behind her. She pivoted quickly, plunged a dagger into its heart. I appeared next to her, smiling at the wide-eyed look she gave me.

?You told me it was at the park!?

?I know. But you were ready. You killed it.?

?But it could?ve killed me!?

?No. I was right here, just in case. But you came through. To tell the truth, that one was just passing overhead. If you hadn?t come out, it wouldn?t have even stopped here.?

?It would?ve bitten my head off!?

?But what if that wasn?t what it intended to do? What if it picked you up and flew away??

?I?d kill it in the air.?

?But then it would drop you. You need to know how to fly.? Her eyes widened.

?You can fly?? I nodded and unfolded black, feathery wings. ?But I?ve never seen your wings!?

?That?s because they aren?t really mine. I conjure them up, just as you conjured up the dagger. You can conjure up your own. You can make them anyway.? I folded my wings back in, then unfolded them again. This time they were pink and fluffy. She laughed.

?Ok, let me try! Umm?? A smile lit her face.

?I don?t see any.? She turned around and I burst out laughing. She had conjured up the wings of a newly hatched baby bird.

?So are you going to let me help you now?? She changed her wings to those of a bat.

?Yes, but not on school nights.?

?I?ll be out of school soon.?

?Good.? Now she changed her wings to butterfly wings. She flapped them gently and took flight.

?See you tomorrow!? She didn?t have far to fly to reach her home, but she flew. And she flew well.

From that point on we began working on her searching mentally for demons at all times. By the time she was 18, a demon only had to try circling around the town for her to notice it. She could?ve spread her vision farther, but I told her not to bother. We were just here to keep this area free.

She knew of all the kinds of demons now. She knew exactly what a demon was, which was a human?s fear manifested. Demons weren?t vampires, although a fear of vampires could manifest a blood-drinking demon. She had fought those blood-drinkers, as well as all the other kinds of demons. From demons that ate your memories to demons that ate your feet, she had killed them all. With only a little bit more practice, she would be as good as me.

?Ashley, you don?t need me anymore. I have to go.?

?You can?t! You haven?t even told me your name, and you promised that you would!? Her eyes were wide; unshed tears glistening in her eyes. She had never gone to college. As she had said, she was born to be a demon buster.

?I?m not leaving forever. I just have to visit my family. You can take care of yourself while I?m gone; I?ve taught you everything you need to know.?

?When will you be back?? I sighed and shrugged.

?I don?t know. But I?ll be back for sure before a year is up.?

?A year??

?It depends. I haven?t visited my family for a long time.?

?Alright? After a week is up, I?ll start counting the days.?

?You do that then.? I spread my black-feathered wings. ?Oh, and by the way, my name is Diane.? I smiled a good-bye and flew south, hearing her whisper my name as I left.

[b][u]Chapter Two[/u][/b]

Once I was safely out of her telepathic range, I stretched my black wings and transformed. Human bodies are slow and loathsome; I reverted to my true form. My already pale, human skin lost all its color. My pupils disappeared, and the light blue color of my irises spread to cover my entire eyes. I ran my tongue along my teeth, satisfied that my fangs had returned. If Ashley could see me now, she would?ve thought I was a demon. Not that she?d be wrong.

Now a black marble castle loomed in the distance. I landed a short distance from it, changing my clothes. What I normally wore around Ashley, namely a black shirt, black jeans, and tennis shoes, disappeared. I replaced them with the usual. A skirt with golden edges and a pale, off-white center; it was, in reality, only two pieces of fabric attached by a golden belt. Like my top, which was the same pale, off-white, it didn?t leave much to the imagination. I folded my black wings to my back; they were actually always there. I made them invisible to Ashley.

I flashed a smile to the guards at the gate; they recognized me immediately and stood tall, trying to impress me as I passed. Also trying to look professional, but unable to take their eyes off of me. Through the courtyard, to the castle itself, all male demons ceased to talk as they caught sight of me. Hundreds of eyes followed my progress. I soaked it all in, enjoying every minute of it. Down the corridors, past open doors, and into the throne room without waiting for the guards to open the doors for me.

My father sat in a black throne, robed in black fabrics. The smaller thrones to his left and his right were empty. I studied him carefully. Of course there were no signs of aging; I was searching for his thoughts reflected on his face. His body was covered in red fur, and his face carefully devoid of emotion. His pointed ears were pricked to hear the goings on of his castle, but otherwise gave no hints to what he might be feeling. His tail was casually laid across the arm of the throne, not twitching in anger. He waited for me to curtsey before him, but I didn?t move. Finally, he spoke.

?I have been calling you for quite some time.?

?Indeed. It has gotten rather annoying.? My father sat up straighter in his throne.

?You have ashamed me, Diane. You?ve killed the demons I sent to retrieve you, and, most recently, you have been seen fighting with a human woman.? I nodded.

?But you never sent Rathsar.? My eyes strayed to the throne to his right. He followed my gaze.

?He is much to busy carrying out my orders to go chasing after his half-sister.? It was meant to be an insult. I didn?t flinch.

?Perhaps I did not want to be retrieved.?

?Perhaps you did not know what was best for you. And still don?t.?

?I can take care of myself just fine.?

?I realize that. But you seemed to become? soft from being around those humans. Soft enough to protect them from demons. Soft enough to fight with one at your side.?

?I?m not getting soft. They?re easy food if no other demons are in the area. And their sudden loss of energy after my feeding goes unnoticed.? My father?s chin now rested in his hand, elbow supported by the throne. The other hand?s fingers tapped on the arm of the throne.

?I thought that at first. But in the past, you would?ve responded to my call immediately. You just brushed it aside.?

?I?m not one of your servants. I serve myself, not you.?

?You are my daughter, and therefore you serve me just as Rathsar does.? His voice remained calm, but a slice of anger entered it.

?You can impose your will onto my physical body, forcing it to serve you. But you cannot make my will bend to yours.? My father smirked.

?You could be surprised.? We were interrupted by a short demon, a messenger. He bowed quickly, trying to keep his eyes on my father. Of course he was unsuccessful. I was well aware of how attractive I appeared to men.

?Well?? asked my father impatiently.

?Rathsar is here, your majesty.?

?Send him in.? The demon left in a hurry, but I caught the look of regret as he tore his gaze away from me. I turned back to my father.

?I came here not to listen to your lectures, but to tell you that this will be the last time I return.? He raised an eyebrow, a smile playing on his lips as I heard the doors open.

?Really?? Something in his voiced alarmed me. I turned as I heard not one set of footfalls, but two.

Rathsar pushed Ashley in front of him. Her hair was disheveled, her clothes wrinkled; she had been in bed. Her nightgown was strapless, like my top, but of course it covered much more of her body than my clothing did. She angrily shoved Rathsar away from her, and then froze when she saw me.

?Diane?? Her voice was barely audible. I turned away, unable to meet her eyes. Instead, I glared angrily at my father. He smiled.

?I presume you have heard of me,? he said, speaking to Ashley. ?I am known as the Devil, Satan, Azazel, etc., but please, call me Lucipher.? Ashley defiantly met his gaze.

?Yeah, I know about you. You?re a coward who makes his son do all your dirty work.?

?Such language for a lady! Rathsar will have to teach you how to address your superiors when he interrogates you.? I turned back to my father.

?Let her go.? My voice comes out as a hiss. As I spoke, I felt my father forcing my body to stay where it was.

?And allow her to train other humans in the art of demon-slaying? I think not.? My anger boiled inside me, building fast. It wasn?t long until I broke my father?s will.

Rathsar never saw that punch coming. He stumbled backwards, his hand on his jaw. He quickly regained his composure as it healed, however. I blocked his way to Ashley. ?Don?t you dare touch her again,? I warned. He smiled, shaking his head.

?You never cease to amaze me. In the past, you never cared about killing humans. You yourself partook in the sport. But now,? and here he laughed lightly, ?you are actually attempting to protect one. I don?t believe you?re thinking clearly, my dear sister.? I knew he was right. My father was forcing his will onto me once more, this time with more strength than before. It took all of my own will to not step away from her. And so, I sent Ashley one telepathic message.

[i]I?ll explain later. For now, do whatever Rathsar says. He won?t hurt you as bad.[/i]

And, albeit reluctantly, I allowed myself to step away from her. Rathsar, smiling, moved in to lead her away. As he passed by me, he sent a telepathic promise.

[i]I?ll do much more than touch her, my dear sister.[/i]

[b][u]Chapter Three[/u][/b]

I stared out my bedroom window at the ever-black world my father had created. No, not created. Shielded. No sun could penetrate his shielding, which left his demons free to go about their un-lives 24 hours a day.

I heard my bedroom door open, light footsteps crossed the room toward me. I didn?t react. Strong arms wrapped around me from behind, a man?s lips kissed my neck.

?Delnar. Why?d you come??

?Your father said you were in need of some? Cheering up.? His hot breath touched my ear as he spoke.

?Not now. I?m not in the mood.? I slipped out of his embrace and side stepped away from him. I could feel his eyes studying me.

?Alright then. You need anything? A glass of blood?? I shook my head.

?I?ll call you when I?m ready.?

I waited until he had gone, then fell backwards onto my bed. Rathsar would have Ashley in his rooms now? But at nightfall, when father was sure to give him something else to do, would he leave her in the dungeons? Or would he lock her in his rooms? I tried to telepathically search Rathsar?s rooms, for signs that he might leave her there. But he had shielded it from me. Oh, well. I?d search the dungeons later, and if she wasn?t there, I?d break into Rathsar?s rooms. No big deal.

I smirked. I had just searched the mind of a man for? signs that this part of my plan would work. I stopped in front of the guard who blocked access to the dungeons and flashed him a winning smile.

?Aan, I haven?t seen you forever.? I watched his face carefully, then, satisfied with the surprise I saw, I continued, ?You know, I haven?t been home for awhile. I really should? celebrate? You know?? I leaned casually against the wall next to him. ?But first, I should check on the prisoners. You know, tease them a bit, and rile them
up?? Aan gulped, then answered, somewhat shakily.

?His Highness ordered that I was to let no one in, except for himself and Prince Rathsar.? I stepped a bit closer to him.

?Not me? They didn?t say anything about me??

?Not a word.? I leaned against him, tracing a pattern on his chest.

?Surely you could let me in? After all, I pay well, and I only want to tease them? It?s not like I?d set them all free or something?? I laughed lightly, pressing my body against his. His will was wavering.

?But if he finds out-?

?He won?t! And if he does, I?ll take the blame for it?? My arms wrapped around his neck. He glanced up and down the corridor, but no one was coming. Then, a quick nod. I smiled wider.

?Good! My rooms, after your shift is up, ok?? He nodded again. I kissed him lightly, and then stepped through the doors. ?I?ll be waiting??

I didn?t glance at any of the dark cells as I passed them. I didn?t stop to tease any prisoners. I headed straight for the last door in the dungeons, which was at the end of a long corridor. I unlocked and opened the door, and then quietly closed it behind me as I stepped in.

Ashley was huddled in one corner of that cell. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her legs, which were curled up in front of her. Tears streaked her face, which was paler than it should have been. She looked like a helpless little child again.

?D-Diane? I-Is that you?? Her voice was no more than a whisper. She looked so helpless, so vulnerable? My instinct was the same as it was the first day I had met her, but on that day I repressed it. Now I didn?t. I crossed the room quickly and wrapped my arms around her tightly, protectively. Fresh tears leaked from her golden eyes now.

?It?s alright? I?m here now?? Suddenly I realized how motherly I was acting. But I didn?t let her go, not yet. Her own strength had been drained from her; she needed as much of mine as I could give her.

?Diane? I?m sorry??

?For what??

?I told him. I told him everything I knew about you, I told him about how we met-?

?It?s alright. I told you to do what he said, so he wouldn?t hurt you as bad. Besides, he would?ve found out sooner or later.? Silence, broken only by her sniffing, reigned for a moment. And then-

?Don?t let him come near me again, please don?t let him come near me again,? she pleaded, her voice barely audible.

?I?m sorry, Ashley, but I can?t. Not yet, anyway. My father can force his will onto me, making me do what he wants me to do. If he doesn?t want me to protect you, then I can?t.? And I continued to explain to her that I was princess here, in a manner of speaking. I told her why my father was angry with me, and how much I had changed since I left here. She listened silently.

?I have to leave now, Ashley. But I?ll come back tomorrow. I promise.? I stood up and walked back across the room. My hand reached for the now unlocked door-

?Diane?? I stopped, waited. ?Were you really going to come back?? I turned to look back at her.

?You know I was, why are you asking?? She hesitated.

?He?Rathsar?said that you weren?t.?

?Don?t listen to anything he says about me,? I said quietly. Then I slipped out, locked the door again, and hurried back to my rooms.

Now I knew that she was physically ok, I had to work out a way to get her away from my father before it was too late.

[b][u]Chapter Four[/b][/u]

?You came.? Ashley?s voice came from right next to me. I tensed, sensing the unspoken threat in those words.

?Of course.? I turned to face the young woman, who leaned against the wall with her arms crossed. She grinned.

?Father knows.? I grabbed her by the collar of her shirt, pushing her up against the wall.

?Ashley?s with you, isn?t she?? The young woman?s eyes darkened from golden to black.

?Where else??

?Take me there. Now.? The woman shrugged.


Now I stood in Rathsar?s bedroom. The woman was nowhere to be seen. She had only been an illusion, after all. Rathsar dropped a body onto the bed, standing to face me. He licked blood off of his lips.

?She hasn?t been changed yet, I can assure you,? he said, stepping to the side. I hurried over to the bed. Ashley?s limp form lay there. She was unnaturally pale, two holes in her neck healed as I watched. I turned back to Rathsar, glaring at him.

?You acted sooner than I had expected.? He shrugged.

?I always like to be ahead of you. Now, if you?ll excuse me, I must finish.? I could feel father?s will binding me, making me helpless as Rathsar slit Ashley?s wrist with his fangs, then his own. But, once again, my father underestimated me. Glass shattered to the ground outside, along with Rathsar. I didn?t have much time?

I grabbed Ashley?s wrist and pulled it to my own mouth. I bit my tongue, and then had to force my body not to heal naturally so the blood could flow into her body. Rathsar would be getting back up now?

Good enough. She?d survive with that much blood. And her memories were gone, as Rathsar had drunk them in along with her blood. I wouldn?t bother to replace them. She?d be better off that way.

I chanted a few words, quickly tracing a few patterns in the air. A black hole, just big enough for Ashley to fit through, appeared before me. I picked up her unconscious body and shoved it through just in time. It closed behind her.
Rough hands grabbed me from behind, turning me around to face a human face, covered in black scales. Rathsar, now in his true form, shoved me into the wall. His claws dug into my neck. A long black tail whipped the air behind him.

?Where is she? Where did you send her?? he hissed, his fangs now large enough to be visible. My brother was a combination of a dragon and a vampire. I leaned more toward a vampire, but I could become a dragon if I wished.

His claws pierced my neck, forcing me to speak to him telepathically instead of vocally.

[i]You know as well as I do.[/i]

?You didn?t,? he growled. But of course I did. He searched my face and my brain, hoping that I was lying. But finally he dropped me. I looked down at my torso in dismay as my neck healed. Blood had drenched chest and stomach, staining the top I wore. But a quick spell cleaned that up.

Rathsar left the room then, glaring at me. I took that as a command to follow him, which I did. He took me before our enraged father.

?How dare you? How [i]dare[/i] you?? my father fumed.

?Earth is the only place that is somewhat safe from you. You can barely influence the humans there, not to mention you cannot physically go there. Rathsar and I become normal humans whenever we go there. And there aren?t any natural demons there. Where else would I send her??

?But [i]where[/i]? Earth is difficult to comb over, especially when I have to send [i]demons[/i] to do the work for me!? I shrugged.

?Your guess is as good as mine.? My father was pacing, but now he stopped and stared at me. Then his eyes narrowed.

?You know where she is. You know [i]exactly[/i] where she is. And you think you can hide that from me?? He let out a short laugh, which I cut off.

?You haven?t found out yet, have you?? I stated defiantly.

?You?ve got too much of your mother in you,? put in Rathsar. I glared at him.

?You can insult my mother all you want; I hate her as much as you do! But when you insult [i]me[/i] for being her daughter-? I punched him in the gut. ?You?re going too far. It?s not my fault father chose her.?

?I have a reason for everything I do, Diane,? stated my father angrily. ?Don?t question my actions.? I sneered at him.

?So why, out of all the women on Earth [i]and[/i] Solarius, did you pick her?? Claws raked my cheek as Rathsar punched me.

?He picked my mother over yours. Remember that.?

?Like I said, I have my reasons. And I should kill you right now for what you?ve done, but I won?t. Perhaps even now I can knock some sense into you.? My father?s will overpowered my body again, and I lost consciousness.

[B][U]Chapter Five[/U][/B]

A ray of sunlight touched my skin as the eastern horizon, tinged with pink, proclaimed the sun?s coming. I winced as the smell of burning flesh reached my nostrils. I twisted my wrists around, hoping against hope that the chains around them were slightly loose, but to no avail. Even if I could free them, my fall to the ground below and the sunlight would render me helpless.

My hands and feet were chained. The chains around my wrists hung around a pole projecting from the side of a tower. My father had removed the shield around his castle for my torture. I glanced up at the chains, noticing how easily it would be to slip them off the end of the pole. But, as was stated before, this would prove useless.

An attempt to shape-shift failed. I knew it would, but at least a covering of white fur or feathers would serve to deflect some sunlight. Not enough, I reflected, as the black feathers of my wings began to sizzle.

I tried to distract myself from the pain as the sun came into full view. Was all this pain really worth it? If I had just let them finish what they started with Ashley?

But, no. She would?ve become a vampire then, forced to obey Rathsar simply because he was her creator. She was better off on Earth, wherever she was. I didn?t exactly know where she was, but I had a general idea. Earthlings tend to travel a lot, though. She could be in Australia now, for all I knew.

Burned skin and feathers fell to the ground below. I clenched my teeth, suppressing a cry of pain. I wouldn?t give my father that satisfaction. If I wouldn?t be too weak, I?d escape at sunset. I didn?t exactly like the idea of my father?s demons staring up at what was left of me when night fell. Too humiliating. I?d kill a few out of spite as I left?

My regeneration would take several nights and much sustenance. The closest town was the one I had protected. I?d never killed anyone there, but that could change. It was a small town, after all. The people there hardly ever traveled. If I wiped them all out, very few would notice.

I could almost taste their blood, taste the fear such an attack as mine would stir in their hearts? Those humans didn?t even believe in demons, as every other human on this planet did. The Devil?s daughter guarded the one place that was truly safe on Solarius? How ironic. Especially as those human?s guardian ?angel? would destroy them all.

The sun?s heat brought me back to the present. Looking down at my body, which was covered in blood, I estimated how much longer the sun would be up. Nearly all my skin was gone? The sun was already burning through muscle tissue, exposing organs and bone? I might not be able to pull my escape off.

[B][U]Chapter Six[/U][/B]

There it was. The breeze shifted, bringing the warm scent of life to me. This town that I had guarded for so long was small, but it carried much blood, much life. I could see through the walls of houses to the warm figures inside, blood circulating through their bodies, as they dreamt peacefully.

I wasn?t strong enough to strike as much fear into their hearts and minds as I wished. My burnt wings hadn?t aided in the least on my journey here. I had been forced to run the whole way. Vampires are stronger and faster than humans, however, so I had reached this town in a matter of minutes. It took longer than normal. Loss of blood will do that to a vampire.

Like Rathsar, I am part dragon. I now used that to my advantage as I grew claws with which to climb up the side of the first house. I pushed open a window on the second floor quietly and slipped in.

The neighbors heard no screams as I drained the inhabitants of life. I had prompted fear in them, but not as much as I would?ve liked. And in the toddler I hadn?t gotten much at all. But the life, the healing blood, now flowed through my veins, refreshing me. Dried blood and scar tissue fell to the ground with each step as new flesh formed. And a flame, small, but large enough for the job, jumped from my hand to the corner of the house.

Burnt feathers floating to the flaming house below, I rose up in the air. A neighboring house?s lights flicked on. Excellent. I conjured up a simple shield to surround the town. No one would escape. No one.

I beat my scaled wings, flexed my talons, and swooped down. More flames sprang up as I conjured more fire. People ran in their pajamas out into the streets. I swept down on them; basking in the tide of fear they were ejecting into the air, and caught a couple in my mouth. I normally didn?t devour humans whole, but as a dragon, I made an exception. Just for tonight.

People screamed. I felt blood lust coming on, but I didn?t fight it. They were all trapped, all mine, mine to kill, mine to spare. They were panicking now. I left the skies for a different form.

They were frightened of the skies, knowing that I would attack them from there. The only safe place, to them, was the ground. Which was where I went next. Shape shifting is wonderful that way.

The fear was lessening as the people realized that the dragon was gone. They stopped running to catch their breath. And I struck. It?s hard to dodge something that comes from beneath you, grabs you, swallows you whole, and then disappears again. Screams filled the air again as a giant plant head with teeth snaked through the earth, grabbing another victim, and dragged him back underground.

Several tried to run into the forest that surrounded the town, but were forced backward by my shield. I was almost completely healed now, but my hunger was not sated yet. I needed more blood, more fear!

Seconds passed, then minutes. I killed no one else, and the people settled down a bit. Then Ashley walked up to her mother and father.

?Mom! Dad! I?m sorry about leaving in such a rush two nights ago?? Her mother hugged her, then her father. But she didn?t let her father go. His body stiffened, he tried to pull away, but her fangs were sunk in deep. My fangs.

A pale figure with black wings dropped Ashley?s father to the ground. I flexed my claws, bared my fangs, and glared at Ashley?s mother through cold blue eyes. Then I sprang on her, tearing into her with my claws, biting her until she fell to the ground. Somebody hit me in the back as I finished her off. I back flipped onto the young man?s back and dug in. A teenage girl was screaming at me to stop, a small child was crying, flames were flickering?

And then it was over. Just before dawn, I surveyed the destruction as I licked blood off of my lips. Bloody bodies scattered across the ground, every building in the town ignited? It was beautiful. Just beautiful. But I couldn?t leave anything.

A ball of flame in my hand shot out to one body. Another flame took its place, then left for a second corpse. And on and on until every one was cremated. But now for the houses. They were burning too slowly. I sped up the process with more fireballs until the whole town was reduced to ashes.

The clouds on the eastern horizon turning pink, I flew toward a cave I had spotted earlier. Now that I was fully healed, I wouldn?t let my father get a hold of me again. I?d stay there until he located Ashley.

[U][B]Chapter Seven[/B][/U]

[I]436? 436? Not right?

436? Weren?t there 437? Yes, 437. Where is he?

A young man. Sandy brown hair. Chocolate eyes. On a chestnut horse.

The man catches sight of a cloud of smoke, still a great distance away. I enter his mind undetected to hear him think: No, it can?t be!

He kicks his horse into a gallop down the slope, through the forest. The horse slows just enough to avoid trees, but he won?t allow it to slow more than that. His home? On fire? It?d never been attacked before; had its luck run out? Perhaps his eyes had been playing tricks on him. The nearest city was quite a distance away from his home, after all. Many demons to fight on the way. Perhaps he had been hallucinating.

But, no. He reaches the top of another hill and sees the smoke again, above the treetops. Was that a figure floating above it? He stares harder, but a sudden breeze conceals it. Perhaps it was a demon. But that was definitely a town on fire. His town. His home.

Now he?s closer. He pulls his shirt up over his nose and mouth to filter out the heavy smoke. His eyes are watering, but he won?t stay here long. Not long enough to affect his horse, anyway. He isn?t sure he wants to see whatever is beyond those trees?

Nothing. He pulls his horse to a stop. Absolutely nothing. The whole clearing?the whole town?is nothing more than a pile of smoldering ashes now. He urges his horse into a walk, guides it through the ash. Nothing. Not even the foundation of a house. But what fire could burn through cement?

But there are no bodies. Maybe the people have escaped. But? No footprints. No sign that anything has ever been here.

He turns his horse south. Demons always came from the south. Or so it was said. It was a starting point, anyway.

I withdraw from his mind then. Strange? The taste of his mind lingers on my lips. The same kind of power that Ashley had even before I gave her my blood. What was she?

A new picture develops in my mind?s eye. A rather intimate one. The thought of Ashley must?ve brought it. I withdraw from it quickly. If my father saw that, he would be able to pinpoint Ashley?s current location. But? Something was wrong with that picture. I work up a shield to protect my mind from my father?s. Now? Ashley. Show me Ashley.

She?s scared. Her memory must be gone. If she had it, she wouldn?t be allowing the man that near to her.

He has dark hair, blue eyes. She?s helpless and he knows it. But? What of before? What happened right when she arrived on Earth?

That vision dissolves. Another one. A man?the same man?walking down an alley. A soft moan stops him. He spots a figure clothed in white and heads toward it.

Ashley. Green hair tangled about her face, golden eyes open partway. She sits up. She doesn?t seem to notice the shadow above her. She leans back against a brick wall, closes her eyes again. Probably trying to remember what happened.

?Hey, you need some help?? asks the man. His voice is coated with honey. Deadly. Not right. But her head must not be too clear, for she nods and opens her eyes again. He helps her up.

?C?mon. You look like you need a doctor.? She doesn?t look like she does to me, other than her eyes. Her eyes are foggy. Just like her head. Heh, maybe I should have given her memories back. On second thought, no. It would?ve taken too much time.

He leads her through a door and presses a button. An overwhelming sense of dread and something else fills Ashley. Her instincts tell her to run, but she stays still. She doesn?t have much of a choice at this point. The door they just came through was locked now.

?Tyrone here. We?ve got a guest,? he speaks into a microphone. A click and he opens the door. A lady at a desk glances up at him, and then looks back down to her nails.

?The doctor?s busy,? she says, filing another nail.

?I?ll just show you to your room,? the man says to Ashley. His voice sounds different now. Anticipation. That?s what it is. That?s the thin slice that enters his voice. Ashley tenses. Something isn?t right. But what was right about any of this? She doesn?t have her memory and this guy?

They enter an elevator. None of the buttons are labeled, Ashley notices. He pushes one and the elevator lurches up. After a few moments, the elevator dings and the door slides open. The man leads Ashley down the hallway to the last door. He punches a code into a panel next to the door. Ashley takes a step away from him, as he?s standing too close for comfort. The door opens automatically?

The man shoves her in and the door closes again. Ashley backs up to the back wall, farthest away from him, and glances around the room. No windows. None in the hallway. None on the ground floor. This place feels like a prison to her.

?Doc?s gonna be busy for awhile, so we?ll have plenty of time to? get to know each other.? The man is crossing the room to her now.

I withdraw from the vision now. I know what?ll happen next, and I don?t really want to see that. But whether Ashley thinks she is or not, she?s safer there than she is here. I envision the man with the sandy brown hair again. I suppose I?ll help him out, sooner or later. He doesn?t need to know the truth about me. Just what I tell

[U][B]Chapter Eight[/B][/U]

[I]The perfect opportunity. Five demons. Their path will converge with his. He will kill them. But?

Wake up[/I]!

I sat up and stretched. So long, so many weeks had I lain, dreaming, in that cave? But my control over myself was so perfect that I could control what I dreamed and when I woke up.

I left the cave and spread my wings. I would need fresh blood, just to replenish myself. There was another town a few miles north, a bit out of my way, but it would have to do.

After a clean kill and burning the body, I flew back to the man who was seeking revenge. I cast a spell of invisibility, just in case he looked up. I passed silently over him, having purposefully grown plumes like those found on an owl?s wings to silence myself. A short distance away, I landed lightly and shape shifted.

Losing my wings was the only major thing. After that, I made my eyes more human, giving them pupils and light blue irises. And my skin? It wouldn?t do to have pure white skin. I added just a tint of color, to make it look as though I hadn?t seen too much of the sun. And I hadn?t, but I?d seen too much for my liking.

A change in clothing was necessary, so I gave myself blue jeans and a sweater. A sheath, for my sword of course, and a gun. I conjured up a full-length mirror for a moment, just to be sure that I wasn?t missing anything, then unsheathed my sword and sliced the mirror in half. Excellent.

All right, now I had to position myself so that the man would reach me at roughly the same time, preferably just a tiny bit after, the demons did. I walked forward a few feet, then stopped and sat down to wait.

One minute passed by, then another. The five demons were moving faster than the man was. That was all right. And?

A noise in the bushes. They had finally arrived. I unsheathed my sword and took the first one?s head off, along with a tree. The man was watching me through the trees now. I smiled to myself and continued my fight, but allowed the four remaining demons to surround me. If I judged him right, he?d dismount and try to help? Now.

One demon jumped on my back, and I heard a slicing sound as the demons behind me was cut in two. Yes, I had been right. I rammed the demon on my back, whose fangs were already digging into my neck, into a tree trunk. He lost his grip on me and I turned to finish him off. I cracked my neck; not allowing my blood to heal the fang wounds, and turned back to the man.

?Can?t say I was expectin? any other livin? person out here. Name?s Diane. ?Preciate the help, but I coulda taken ?em myself. I?m goin? south, for a lil? challenge. Where?re you headed?? We both sheathed our swords.

?I?m goin? south as well,? he said in a deep voice. He was tall and thin, probably about 6? if not taller.

?Great! I could use a lil? company. And your name is???

?Jason. Excuse me for sayin? this, but you?re rather pale.? I shrugged.

?Always have been. I sunburn easy an? I?ve always preferred the night over the day.? That wasn?t too big of a lie. ??Sides, demons don?t come out durin? the day.? Which is exactly why I don?t. ?I use ?em for practice.? That was partially true as well. I rested my hand on the hilt of my sword and, with the other hand, pulled out my pistol. ?I use this on the livin?, but I try to avoid all that. And why?re you goin? south? Is it ?cause o? that town I passed a while back?? He nodded.

?I used to live there. Took a lil? vacation and prob?ly survived ?cause of it. I?ve traveled durin? the night ?cause the demons who destroyed my town do. Wanna join me?? I shrugged.

?Might as well, seein? as we?re both goin? to the same place.? He walked back over to the trees where he?d tied his horse up.

?D?ya have a horse?? he asked, leading his out. I shook my head.

?I can ride double.?

Everything was going according to plan.

[U][B]Chapter Nine[/B][/U]

[I]He doesn?t trust me. He watches my sleeping form from the opposite side of the cave, suspicious. I chose this cave. He suspects that I?m a demon, that I can?t survive in sunlight. If he attempts to bring me outside, I?ll awake. For now, I have more important matters to attend to.

Ashley. Show me Ashley.

A vampire. Pure white skin; he must be over 1,000 years old to have earned that. Short, curly, dark brown hair. Piercing hazel eyes. A clean-shaven face and uncallused hands. He wears a white lab coat and draws blood from Ashley?s arm.

The man who found her takes one container of blood into another room. The vampire picks up the other container, stares at it for a moment, and then lifts it to his lips.

Ashley gags and turns away as he drinks her blood. She suddenly realizes what he must be, if he?s not just crazy. She longs to run away; back to the life she had before she lost her memory. If she?d known what position she?d be in now if she were still here, she would much prefer being with the vampire.

?You?re a dhampir.? Ashley turns toward the vampire again, uncomprehending. ?But of course, you wouldn?t know. You can?t remember a thing. Your memories aren?t even there. Another vampire would?ve taken them. But?? He finishes the rest of her blood, swishing it around in his mouth before swallowing.

?No, not a dhampir. Too much human blood there? Do you even know what a dhampir is?? Ashley hesitantly shakes her head, not sure where this conversation will lead. ?Half-vampire, half-human. Usually a vampire father. Very rare indeed. It?s not common that a new vampire will, in the first few days after they?re remade, have sex with a human. But only during those first days will anything come of it. Vampires? bodies are different than human bodies and take time to change.? He contemplates her for a moment, giving her a tingly sensation all through her body as he mentally searches her, and then clears his throat.

?I?ll give you a brief summary of what happened to you, from what I can make out. You were attacked by a vampire and nearly killed. A dhampir saved you by giving you blood.?

The other man, the human, walks in. He opens his mouth to speak, but the vampire cuts him off.

?Yes, I know. Dhampir blood is mixed with her own. She?s very unique. And you?ll take her to your house. Marry her, if you?d like. But keep her there. I?ll find other, more ordinary test subjects. She?d be rather complicated, anyway.? The other man stops, shocked. Apparently this has never happened before. I withdraw from the scene.

Test subjects? Interesting. I should meet with this vampire sometime. Perhaps I should go to Earth instead of waiting here for Ashley?s return.

Jason seems to have made up his mind. He?s going to do it. Better wake up.[/I]

?You don?t trust me, do you?? I asked, sitting up and stretching. Jason stopped, bewildered. He had been sure I was sound asleep. But he responded after a few seconds.

?Quite frankly, no. And why should I?? I stood now, yawned, and turned to face him.

?That?s your choice. But I?d rather stay in here. As I said, I sunburn easy an? I?ve always hated sunlight. If you think I?m a demon, fine, just don?t try anythin? like that again. I?m a light sleeper.?

[U][B]Chapter Ten[/B][/U]

I could've been to my father's castle and back by now. But, seeing as I was traveling with a human and I had to act like one, I couldn't exactly sprout wings and fly there. Not to mention that I had to pretend I didn't know the way. I suppose I didn't really mind the delay. I was waiting for my father to get a hold of Ashley again, after all, and humans are so fun to play around with. If Jason still doubted that I was human after about a week's time, he didn't show it.

I made the mistake of letting my guard down. Of course, I still checked on Ashley repeatedly, and I kept an eye on Jason just in case, but there didn't really seem to be any other dangers around. Other than roving demons, but those were just irritating.

I was chatting with Jason lightly on a cool summer's night when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a cave. I stopped speaking abruptly and turned to face it, as there seemed to be an odd smell about it...

"Diane?" asked Jason curiously. I held a hand out to signal for him to stay where he was and dismounted my horse, handing the reins to Jason. I then stepped cautiously into the shadows of the cave. The smell was definitely coming from here, but I still couldn't place it...

I tensed as I recognized it. The smell of fear and those who prey off of it clung to the walls, dripped off the ceiling, and tempted me in. But I forced my feet to stop. This cave led to a tunnel. An underground passage, leading to the castle... I had used it often. Occasionally, when I was younger, I would bring my victims here and toy with them a bit. I wasn't the only demon to do that, of course, but there... A stain of blood. From a young man who'd fallen in love with me once. Well, I suppose I helped his emotions along a bit... And he'd been an adolescent, spicing his blood up that much more...

Jason was approaching me now, his curiousity getting the best of him. He'd left his horse outside with my "borrowed" one. He stopped behind me, however, and took a step back.

"Are you... ok?" he asked quietly. I turned to face him, silently questioning him. His hand went to the hilt of his sword.

"What?" I asked. He just stared at me and didn't answer. I brushed by him to head outside, away from him, as a thought occurred to me.

Past the horses, through the trees, walking faster than a normal human could. To a stream where I knelt to stare in horror at my reflection.

My eyes were a glowing ice blue, my fangs had reappeared, and my skin was covered in black scales. My wings had returned as well, but they had no feathers and looked like dragon wings. I lashed my tail out at a tree in frustration and dug clawed fingers in the ground. My father had taken an opportunity to expose me to Jason, but in a form I hadn't even known I possessed.

I forced the tail, wings, and fangs to diminish in size until they weren't visible anymore. My scales fell to the ground as I forced them off, along with two light blue scales that covered my eyes. I was mad enough that I ripped my claws off for fingernails to replace them, then I returned to the cave and Jason.

"You're a demon," he stated as he watched me, back in human form, approach. I shrugged.

"Yeah, well, I tried to hide it. But I suppose I should tell you the truth now." He laughed.

"A demon, tell the truth? You've got to be kiddin' me."

"Look, I'm not like other demons. I didn't exactly think you'd trust me if you knew. Anyways, I really am on your side in this, but we can't go any farther." He raised an eyebrow.

"We? Who says there's any more 'we' in this? You can stay here, I'm going on." He turned his back to me and mounted his horse.

"No, you're not. If you can't trust me in anything else, trust me in this. There's no way you'll do any good when you're dead." He turned to face me again, his face cold.

"Don't tell me what to do." And with that, he kicked his horse into a run and left me in the dust. I cursed him and reverted to the form I usually use, with the black feathered wings.

His horse reared when I landed in front of it, but Jason stayed on it.

"Don't make me kill you," he said calmly. I smirked.

"You, kill me? That would be impossible, to say the least. As I said, I'm not like other demons." I folded my wings in, to appear less threatening to his horse. "You can't go any farther, and if I have to hold you back by force, so be it." I took a step toward him, but he drew his sword. I sighed and, to his eyes, disappeared. Actually, I just took off again and punched him from the air to knock him out.

[I]Thomas, the man who'd found Ashley about a week ago, was gone somewhere tonight. Ashley lays asleep in the bed she's forced to share with him, breathing deeply. And then...

She exhales a silvery cloud. The mist draws from her lungs until all air is gone, but keeps drawing life from her. Now it's stained red as her blood evaporates through her skin and joins with her breath. Interesting.

A light knock at the door, then it opens a crack. "Miss? It's midnight; are you ready?" A maid who had agreed to help Ashley escape. "Miss? Are you awake?" The maid opens the door farther and steps into the room.

A loud hissing fills the air as the maid catches sight of Ashley's lifeless body. The maid doesn't seem to hear it and runs to the bedside. The mist is warping now, seeming to boil as the maid reaches out a hand...

The mist shapes itself quickly, taking the form of Ashley. It hisses again, and this time the maid hears it. She looks up, startled, then her eyes lock on the glowing golden ones surrounded by mist.

"The mistress must not be disturbed!" the mist hisses at her, swooping towards her and digging transparent fangs into her neck. The maid screams, but a transparent hand covers her mouth. Her eyes wide, she tries to struggle with the thing, but her struggles weaken as it becomes more solid. And finally, when the last drop of blood is drained, it drops her body to the floor.

"See, mistress? See what I've done? She attempted to disturb your rest, but I've killed her for you!" the spirit of Ashley, now translucent, hisses excitedly to Ashley's corpse. It seems to wait for an answer, then, satisfied, hisses, "I'll keep them all from you, mistress. They'll not disturb you. And when the time comes, you shall awaken again, yes?" [/I]

I awoke and stared at Jason's unconscious body, at the other side of the cave. The vampire had said he wouldn't experiment with Ashley... But she's so unique, of course he wouldn't pass up an opportunity. But I'd never seen a spirit take on a physical form like that. Interesting. So now I'd have to go to Earth...
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