Let there be Light
When your chamber grows cold, and your hearth grows wane, know that creatures abound who be most profane. Demon's they be, the denizens of hell, heed my words lest you be taken by their spell.~ An excerpt from Alexander Morningstar's 'Celestial Matters.'
The sun had set, and with it passed the pretense of nobility.
The sin that its golden light held at bay ... was now free to come out and play. The moon hung in the air ... and the fresh smells of a new night were intoxicating.
I inhaled deeply of that heady aroma.
The city howled around me ... crying out the passion and seduction that could be enjoyed by any who desired. Tavern owners opened their doors and tapped their barrels of wine. Whores applied sensual paints to their faces, hoping to catch the eye of a wealthy patron. Beggars filled the street corners ... their hands raised and their heads lowered.
The city has readied itself to receive them ... and finally, they had arrived. The aristocrats of Paris were on the prowl. Gold jingled in their purses and thoughts of temperance were far from their minds.
It was perfect.
I set out from my place of rest with my cloak adorned and my cuffs buttoned ... I was ready to partake of the nightly sin that humanity had to offer.
The cobble stone road clicked delightfully under my heels. Men and woman swarmed the streets. Revelry was audible from every tavern ... passion tangible from every brothel.
I had a specific establishment in mind for the evening's delights. A noble I had taken a particular shine to had recommended it last night at the opera.
The brothel was called 'The Rosy Garter.' It was one of the nicer places in town. My outfit was assembled to reflect the latest in fashions. A black cloak with a vest and a red cravat.
The door to the house of ill repute was closed, and a burly guard stood at the ready. His hand rested on the pommel of his weapon. A scar decorated his face, giving his appearance a sense of experience.
A gold coin was enough to buy a smile from him, and allow my admission.
I stepped smartly across the threshold.
Public housing was a wonderful thing.
An old woman confronted me at the door. She walked with steps that belonged to one far younger than she ... yet despite her artfully applied rouge the lines on her face were obvious. Her dress was modest and her expression imperious. She could be no other than the Madam of the establishment.
She took one look at my arrogantly expensive clothes and began to fawn over me. I gave her my most charming smile ... and she tittered like a woman twice younger than her age.
I kept my gaze about the room. I had to make sure not to make eye contact. At times when I am calm my eyes are burgundy ... almost passable for brown, but when my power comes to the fro ... my eyes glow red ... bright red.
"Good evening Madam," I said in my most alluring tones, "I seek the pleasures that only your house is known for." She bowed low, "Of course Monsieur, I believe you will find my hospitality most enjoyable." "Thank you," I purred into her ear. I slipped a gold coin into her hand.
Her calloused fingers knew the feel of a livre without the benefit of sight.
She smiled. She looked like a cat who ate the canary. She turned to a serving wench who was passing by with a round of mead.
She spoke slow soft French. "Fetch Maria for me."
I returned my eyes to my surrounding and looked around the room. It was quite opulently furnished. Reds and golds lay out amongst the couches. Goblets made of pewter stood like soldiers on the polished tables. Pretty girls flitted from man to man ... looking for someone to end the night with her in her bed chamber.
But the mark that made this establishment superior was that nothing overtly sexual was going on. Men flirted with women, and everyone was drinking but there was no groping or even any drawn out kissing.
"Good evening sir." said a sultry voice from behind me.
My breath caught, and my silver tongue failed me.
She had flowing golden hair that was straight yet thick. It tumbled from her head and framed an alabaster face that could not have been more perfect ... more enthralling. A tight red dress clung to gentle curves. Her corset did not look as if it was strung to tightly, as many of the other whore's did. I bent low, and placed a light kiss upon her hand.
My lips tingled.
I was already savoring the sweet struggle this girl would give me.
I raised my head, and gazed into her eyes ... they were the shade of polished silver.
She giggled at my theatrics.
"A most splendid evening it is," I replied. "Might I ask the name of the goddess that stands before me?"
She giggled slightly. "My name is Maria," she said, her voice dripping sex.
I sighed softly. "Sweet Maria ... I came here looking for nothing more than a conversation to keep the lonely hours at bay, but after seeing you, I'm afraid I must ask if you offer more ... intimate services?"
"Why yes I do Monsieur," she said, doing a cute little twirl.
Her blond hair danced briefly as she spun ... she smiled at me.
"Follow me then Monsieur," Maria said, "My chambers are upstairs ... I feel that that would be a more comfortable setting for aiding you against your loneliness." She grabbed my hand, and I followed her up the marble stairs.
Her room was apparently at the end of the hall. It was also the only one that I could see that had double doors. She let go of my hand to open the door. She stepped through the frame gracefully.
I eagerly tried to follow.
I promptly hit my head on an invisible wall. I stood looking the fool outside of the doorway.
She actually slept here and considered this room her home. That made these four walls her residence. I couldn't come in uninvited.
Maria turned her beautiful face around to peer at me. Her eyes betrayed her puzzlement. I'm sure no man had ever hesitated to enter a bedchamber with one as pretty as her.
"Well?" she said.
I tried my best to look nonchalant. "Forgive me, milady, but I do not enter a lady's abode without her permission." She laughed ... a real laugh. "I like you Monsieur, but I am no lady." She paused, watching me simply stand outside her room.
"Oh very well." she said, as if suddenly annoyed. She put on a false aristocratic accent. "Enter good sir." She said dramatically.
The wall vanished. I stepped in.
The room mirrored the opulence down in the drawing room. A red canopy bed occupied the entire room. Silks and other soft and feminine things were artfully arranged across the walls.
"My dear," I said, "Your chambers would say that you are a lady." I layered my voice with demonic influence.
At my charmed statement, her face soured.
"Yes, currently I have the honor of the Queen's suite," she said tensely, "But as soon as someone prettier than I comes along, I will soon be serving beer along with the other aging sows."
Maria blinked suddenly, and cast a furtive glance at me ... as if suddenly remembering that I was a customer and not her confidant. Her face dropped to the floor for a moment.
She looked back up at me demurely. "Forget I said anything Monsieur ... don't worry about my problems. I'm here to take care of you, not the other way around."
She stepped up to me, and placed her cherry lips to mine. Lips that felt too good to be of this earth, the best kiss I had ever had.
My sluggish mind slowly made sense of the clues that I had been ignoring.
No human has silver eyes ... no human could have enraptured me like this one had ... no human kiss could leave me speechless. I quickly pulled the young girl off me. She gave a startled yelp. I grabbed her shoulders and lifted her off her feet like a kitten. She struggled wildly, her eyes wide and fearful.
I shoved her against the wall to still her.
"Are you an Angel?" I asked her softly. My calm tones betrayed my inner fury.
Maria tittered nervously from her place against the wall. "You're sweet." She said.
She acted like she didn't know ... like I hadn't just caught her in the act of her deception. She probably had a blessed blade nearby, ready to cut my heart from my chest.
I shook her. "I know you're an Angel!" I practically shouted at her.
Her face was panicked now, "Your eyes ... something ... something's wrong with your eyes!" She said.
I could feel my powers stirring. I hadn't used them in over a week, but they were rising. I imagined my eyes would be glowing red. Soon my shadow would start to grow and the room would get cold.
Maria broke out into a sweat. Her eyes were wide with fear. "What ... what are you...?" she asked, voice barely more than a whisper.
Her obvious confusion stilled my anger. She really didn't know ... she thought she was human. But I knew that couldn't be true.
She wasn't an angel. An angel would have fought back by now.
The window panes began to frost over and the candles began to dwindle.
"I am a demon, my child." I said, in as soft as candor as I could muster. I let go of her, and she slumped down the wall till she hit the floor.
Tears began to fall from her eyes, the lusty seductress was gone, in her place, a eighteen-year old looked very scared. She clutched her arms to her chest.
She looked up at me ... and shivered.
"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy..." I quickly cut off her prayer by clapping my hand on her mouth. My ears had started to bleed.
Normally listening to someone pray didn't provoke such a strong reaction. More like being sea sick. When she began to pray though, it felt as though someone took a pick to my ears. Human prayer couldn't do that.
They were too full of sin and faithlessness ... but this girl...
"I would appreciate it if you would not do that." I said. She sobbed around my hand. Her silver Angel eyes looked up at me pitifully. I cautiously took my hand away. She gazed at me, no longer crying, just sniffling.
Human fear on an Angelic face ... she couldn't be anything else.
I leaned down and placed my hands on her flushed cheeks, "Look at me Maria," I said softly.
Her silver eyes darted away to stare at the floor.
"Maria..." I whispered, "You're a Half-Angel." She cringed away from me like I was a monster ... I smiled indulgently down at her. After all ... I am a monster.
"Half Angel," she whispered.
"Well, the correct term is Aethling, but yes." I said with the same grin on my face.
Maria's fear quickly turned to indignation. Her surprise at my display had dissipated ... and in its place stood righteous fury.
She slowly climbed to her feet, drew herself up, and took a deep breath.
"Demon," she said in a quivering voice, "If you are not going to hurt me, I would like to ask you to leave."
"I am afraid you can't make me leave, Maria." I said with a chuckle. "You gave me an open ended invitation ... I can stay as long as I want ... and you, are fascinating."
"I don't believe you ... Angels live in Heaven, and I can't be the daughter of one." She said softly.
"Have you never felt the powers in you? The force that turns violently deep inside? Powers that demands to be used ... to be acknowledged
"Powers? ... no ... no ... I am a prostitute for God's sake," she said. "I was called to serve you by Madame because you looked rich ... now ... now this." She said shakily.
I was barely listening to her quibbling. This was the first time I had ever stumbled upon an unaware Aethling.
I had been rather bored lately. Perhaps this would serve to amuse me for a time.
"Hmm ... I wonder if Aethlings are like Tithlings." I wondered aloud.
"What's a Tithling?" She asked, after a bout of hiccups.
"Half demon," I said absently, deep in thought Tithlings required exposure to magic in order to awaken to their potential, if Aethlings were the same, I could Awaken her right now. Though I doubt an Aethling has ever been Awakened by Demonic magic before.
I sighed ... and strode over to Maria, and placed my hand on her head.
"Brace yourself," I said softly, "You might not enjoy this." A flash of red light erupted from my palm.
~The most noble creature I have ever seen is an Angel. Their bright silver eyes are enchanting, and to hear one speak is enrapturing. My life has been miserable since that meeting, because when I was in the Angel's presence I knew joy like no other.~ The suicide note of Lord Brenon
It felt like fire was ripping through my body.
The pain was so intense that my mind couldn't process it. It felt like invisible flames were in my blood, in my very soul. It was all coming from HIS hand.
The demon's hand. The aristocrat with the bright red eyes and the face of an angel. All I could see was red. I could feel my consciousness ebbing. The black was beginning to close in on the crimson. My last thought was to start screaming, but I never managed to.
I could hear the sound of water dripping.
Drip Drip Drip ... it was so cold...
I tried to open my eyes. They were crusted shut with dry tears ... funny, I don't remember crying. I tried to open them again. This time I met with more success. Yet I might as well have kept them closed.
It was dark and cold. And damp. Very damp. This place felt earthy and I didn't like it. It made me feel ... cramped.
"I see you're awake my dear," said a voice from the darkness.
A candle suddenly burst into life, all on it's own.
The face of the demon was suddenly visible. Candlelight flickered over his face ... his perfect face.
Perfect except for his eyes.
Hunger and evil stared out from those twin crimson orbs. They still burned with a bright red light ... and they looked ... hungry.
I quickly scooted back until I hit a rock wall; in the back of my mind I realized this must be a cave.
He gave a little smile, as if amused.
"My dear, you have nothing to fear from me," he said, his voice comforting, like a priest giving a confession. He sounded understanding, and calm ... he sounded like ... safety.
I shook my head vigorously.
I racked my mind for something to aid me.
I remembered a line from the Bible.
"Get behind thee Satan!" I screamed. He chuckled.
"My dear, you're lucky it's just me, for I am certainly not Lucifer ... your situation would be most dire if he sat before you.
"I know you're not ... THE Satan..." I mumbled, "but I thought, I thought I could..."
"Drive me away with archaic words?" He supplied.
I nodded lamely.
He chuckled again. "Well, my dear. Three things that prevent that little plan." He began.
"One, you're on unholy ground.
Two, that doesn't really work unless you're holding a cross.
And three, since I am neither in your dwelling nor a church, a demon of my caliber is not put off by holy muttering and groveling."
I hardly heard him. I was too busy looking at his eyes. I gave myself a little shake. I got some blond hair in my mouth as a reward.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"Why, this is one of my homes," he answered. "This cave is on the de-consecrated ground of an old Christianity sect from two hundred years ago.
I nodded as if I understood. He looked at me carefully.
"By the way ... how are you feeling?" he asked.
His demonic eyes trained on my face.
I spluttered a bit. "Why ... why do you ask?" I responded.
"Well," he began, "If all went well, I would expect you to be awakened by now."
I looked at him, trying to convey confusion in a glance.
He sighed. "Maria," he said. "You're an Aethling ... a half angel."
I continued to stare.
"Tithlings and Aethlings both require a surge of magic to awaken their immortal side." He explained. "Now I wasn't sure if an Aethling could be awakened with demonic power or not ... but I was curious enough to try."
"Well I don't feel any different," I said, taking a quick inventory of all my bits. I seemed to be a perfectly functioning eighteen-year old HUMAN girl.
He frowned..."Well you see that is just it, I've never awakened a Tithling or an Aethling so I have no idea if you would feel different or not."
He began pacing the small cave. The candle still flickered, making him look like a big black shadow going back and forth.
Back and forth ... it was hypnotic.
He suddenly spun around.
"I know," he said. He reached into a leather pouch that hung on his waist. Quick as a cat he tossed something directly at my face. I caught it reflexively ... and dropped it just as quickly ... it felt like he had just tossed me solid fire.
I looked down at my hand. It was red and raw with blisters ... I cast my eyes down to the rock floor, expecting to see a glowing coal smoldering at my feet.
Instead all I saw was a small jade pentagram with a string attached to it. Presumably so that it could be wore around a neck.
He was smiling smugly. "That sting a little?"
I choose to ignore him. I tepidly touched the pentagram with my pointer finger. As soon as I touched it my finger felt seared. I could even see a little smoke coming from it.
He was laughing now ... a deep and somber sound. "Those that belong to the light can't touch our symbols," he said between laughter. "I did it. I awakened you..." He was beaming at me.
I looked down at my hand. The blisters were already starting to fade...
"Impossible..."I muttered to myself.
"Apparently not." he said. He stopped. Then looked thoughtful again..."Come stand by the candle," he said.
I didn't really want to, but somehow my feet were suddenly under me, and I was walking over toward the candle.
"Stand still," he said.
Then he stopped, and it looked like he was directing his gaze to the wall behind me. He smiled again.
"You don't cast a shadow," he said smugly.
I twisted around quickly to look at the cave wall. I could see the shadow of the demon, but there was no black outline of me.
Something in my head snapped I spun on my heels towards him. And I punched him with all my might in the face. Surprisingly, he went flying backwards into the cave wall, then dropped straight down onto a stalagmite.
There was a wet sound.
I quickly ran up to him.
His torso was impaled about the sharp rock. Near his abdomen Had I ... killed him?
Blood slicked the stalagmite, and crimson was spreading onto the dark cave floor...
The Way Things Are
~Hey doo doo, hey dee dee, gather round and listen to me. When the sun comes up you've no reason to cry, the demons all run, from that orb in the sky. But before the night, be safe in your home, and invite no strangers in if you are alone.~ Forgotten Children's Rhyme
I had only had the pleasure of being impaled once before. And that was on a battle field during the Crusades, when a warrior priest named Daniel Fleeting ran me through with a sword blessed by Pope Urban.
Needless to say, landing on a stalagmite after being punched by an emotional teenage half-breed was nowhere near as dignified.
The pain, however, was excruciating. I must have blacked out, because I was now facing down in a sizable pool of my own blood.
I tried to move around the rock. Nothing, it was firmly stuck. I looked up. The beautiful adolescent Aethling was standing in front of me in my poorly lit cave. Tears fell freely from her pale face.
"Are you going to live?" she asked, her voice trembling
I groaned in the affirmative.
"Good..." she paused..."you stole my shadow you bastard," she said finally ... though this time it was barely more than a whisper.
I couldn't help laughing, even though most of my diaphragm had stalagmite through it.
"I didn't do anything to your shadow, little girl." I said with a sneer. "It's what you are ... creatures of the light do not cast shadows." I said between moans of pain.