• "Are you ready?"

    Kyla swallowed and nodded firmly. There was no going back now. She reached out and grasped hands with the man facing her. She stared up at his face and could not help but remember that day when she had first met him and how he had changed her life since that moment.

    Their first meeting had been accidental. What had started as a simple incident had escalated into a matter of life and death. She had become involved, and he had rescued her. Oh, there had been others, but while they soon forgot him in the monotony of daily life, she never did. Something about him allured her and her life never satisfied her from then on. She became obsessed with finding him again. But when she did meet him again, it was he who had found her.

    He had appeared out of nowhere. She had lost herself in the alleyways of the city when she felt a touch on her shoulder and whirled around, tensed and expecting danger. Instead, she found herself looking at the very man she had been searching for. It had been near a year since their last, brief meeting. Since their reunion, she had not been able to tell if she were living a dream or a nightmare.

    Theirs was a strange relationship: at times he would flare up in anger at the smallest provocation, sometimes he would become as stubborn as a mountain of rock, and yet other times he would shine with happiness like the brightest sun. Kyla had never understood the reason for his strange moods. It constantly confused her, and there were many times when her fury at his unpredictability suddenly burst out of her control. But they had always managed to pull themselves together and their relationship continued as if the conflict had never happened.

    She soon became used to the man’s peculiar ways. She let him reside in her apartment and, though they never talked about their past and knew next to nothing about each other, they became inseparable. One day, the man unwittingly revealed some of his true nature.

    There was a knock on the door. It was approaching midnight. The man was relaxing on a couch, staring at the ceiling. She answered the knock promptly. As soon as she pushed down the handle, the door was flung open with enough force to send her sprawling on the floor. In the doorway stood a figure at least a head taller than her. The man instantly leaped to his feet and began to glow with a strange red, pulsing energy. The intruder seemed surrounded by an aura of darkness alike to a black hole; it seemed to swallow the light around him. Her companion suddenly seemed taller and emanated an atmosphere of menace. She huddled on the floor, afraid of the persona which had taken over her companion at the intruder’s appearance.

    The two men were spitting and hissing at each other in an alien language. They seemed to be arguing heatedly. Finally, the intruder stepped forward and tendrils of darkness crept towards her and the glowing man. She shrank from the darkness, instinctively terrified of its embrace. A horrible snarl twisted the expression of the glowing man and for a moment he shone brightly with red light. The darkness cringed from the brightness, retreating slowly. Surprised, the intruder stepped back, growling and snarling. In a split second, the intruder launched himself at the glowing man. His outstretched hands were thrown into relief by the other man’s glow and she saw that the intruder’s nails were elongated and sharp – claws to rip and shred flesh.

    The glowing man flung out his hand and the intruder was flung down and pinned to the floor. A dome of red light began to encircle the intruder. The intruder gave a scream of fury and flung tendrils of darkness at the dome in a futile attack. The dome began to turn opaque and she had one final glimpse of an expression of horror on the intruder’s face before she heard his final scream. There was a bright flash. The intruder was gone.

    As her companion turned to her, she felt the raw, ancient power which burned within him. For the first time, she was afraid of him.

    The man’s brush on her cheek with his lips brought Kyla back from her memories. She blinked, refocusing on the man’s face, noticing his eyes properly for the first time.

    “You’re eyes,” she whispered. “They’re black.”

    The man smiled easily, but his eyes did not change to reflect his smile. “That isn’t important,” he murmured.

    “It is to me,” she insisted. She began to pull her hands of his grasp but he tightened his grip firmly.

    “You don’t believe me?” he asked softly. He suddenly chuckled quietly. “You know what?” he hissed. “You’re right. You shouldn’t have trusted me.” Before she could respond, he pressed his lips to hers.

    She could not pull away – it was too late now; this intimate contact had removed all possibility of escaping. Despite everything, she found herself relaxing into the kiss. He released her hands and pulled her closer and she wrapped her arms around him as their kiss deepened. Dimly, she was aware of the pressure of building magic around her.

    Too late, she realised that she knew now her lover’s true identity, but she could not pull away. Her grip had slackened and her body was limp. If not for the man, her body would have fallen. Her spirit was fading quickly. The last vestiges of her consciousness were aware of the ever increasing arcane energy around her. She saw the root of its power: a deep, ever-lasting darkness. Its aura called to her, enticing and seductive. For a moment, she resisted, but no mere mortal could refuse its pull. She embraced the darkness…

    The demon gently laid the body on the ground. Around its lips was the final flickering of a departed soul.

    * * *

    “We make ourselves a place apart
    Behind light words that tease and flout,
    But oh, the agitated hear
    Till someone really find us out”

    => Extract from Revelation, Robert Frost