“Come on, Elyse, just agree and this is yours again,” the tall brunette mocked, waving a golden locket in front of the petite girl’s crumpled fallen form.
Though not much, the little piece of jewelry was the only physical reminder she had of her grandfather–that and occasional flashes of kind blue eyes were the only things tying Elyse to her old life, to the life before she become just another forgotten child in the orphanage. She would be damned if she let, Rosanna, the resident bitch, take her sole treasure away.
“Give it back, Rosanna,” she snapped lunging for the dangling locket. Her fingers no sooner had made contact with the cold metal of the chain, than she was roughly pulled back. Her scalp burnt with pain. Someone was holding her long blonde tresses, keeping her in place. Probably another one of Rosana’s minions.
“Not so fast, Gimpy,” called a familiar voice in her ear tightening their hold on her hair even more.
Elyse held in the shriek of pain. Judging by the grating tone and overpowering stench of one having not bathed in weeks, she guessed Marcella was the girl behind her. The same Marcella who loved picking on younger children in the orphanage. The one who stepped on their toys and stole the little scraps of food they received. Were she to show more signs of discomfort, her abuse would drag on. That was why she kept her mouth shut, stifling any groans.
“Ease on your grip, Marcella, we still want a decent sacrifice for our ritual,” Xonia, a tall brunette Elyse had never talked to, muttered stepping away from the corner of the storage chamber. Immediately the burning of her scalp stopped. She sighed in relief.
At her escape, the big brute of a girl shot her a sadistic look.
“Alright, enough with the pleasantries.” Rosanna held her precious locket above the burning fireplace, dangling it threateningly close to the angry flame. “We need to have a willing subject, otherwise he shall not come. Agree to the ritual or say goodbye to this rusty piece of metal,” at her last words, the willowy auburn haired girl let the gold chain balance precariously on her pinky finger, too close to the embers.
For Elyse, the choice was clear. “I agree.”
Rosanna and her group snickered at the desperation tinging her voice, throwing the locket carelessly on the cold stone. Elyse swiftly crawled for it, ignoring the shot of agony though her crippled right leg and clasped it back around her neck, holding the charm close to her heart. No matter the humiliation. She would even beg for that little piece of home she had left.
“Let us start.” Rosanna snapped her fingers.
An ancient looking book with black leather covers was brought forward by a scared doe-eyed little girl who quickly disappeared back in the crowd. Something about that book sent cold shivers down Elyse’s spine. The more she stared at it, the colder she felt in the otherwise stifling atmosphere of the basement. It was summertime. It was not supposed to be this absurdly chilly.
Elyse jumped. Was she the only one to hear that ominous whisper? She looked around. Xonia and Rosanna were leafing though the pages of the mysterious volume while Marcella was ordering the other girls to gather supplies for the bloody ritual they kept mentioning before.
Nevertheless, it was probably not a smart idea to continue crouching on the hard ground of the storage room. Something about sitting on the cold slippery floor surrounded by all those broken shelves storing shattered pots made Elyse feel even more of a sacrifice than she already did. She had to get up.
A quick look revealed the location of her trusty crouches. They were a few feet away, near a wooden crate filled with carrots, where she had previously been ambushed by Marcella that evening. She had just been on her way to retrieve ingredients requested by the cook when the oaf jumped out of the dark and pushed her down. That was where her nightmare had begun.
She was reaching for the much needed crouches when they were suddenly kicked out of view by a supple leg. “Your place is right where you are now, dear. On your knees on the ground, waiting for him,” smirked Xonia. The young woman’s angelic features were tainted by the evil burning in her gaze.
“Tie the gift,” Rosanna, the apparent leader of the delusional band mentioned while sprinkling the cold basement with what looked like water. Was that holy water? She did not whether to be amused or horrified by this revelation.
Just what exactly what were they expecting?
Xonia was quick to find a rope and bind both her her arms and legs tightly, the scratchy material sure to leave ugly marks on her skin afterwards. Suddenly, the brunette grabbed Elyse by the jaw, shaking her slightly. “Make sure you do your part and nothing else, Gimpy. If I were you, I would not want to upset him.”
She was highly tempted in that moment to just spit in Xonia’s beautiful face and show her just what she believed of their crazy ritual. She was also pretty sure she could aim right in the centre of the girl’s forehead–it was one of the skills she retained from her vagabond friends to the exasperation of the nuns running the orphanage.
Armed with a piece of chalk, Xonia drew a white circle around Elyse, entrapping her in its constricting circumference. The drawn figure was separating the young girl from the others. By the look on everybody’s faces and their retreating forms, it was clear that whatever apparition they wanted to summon was going to end up confined with her in the circle.
With no way to defend herself.
She was not one to suffer from claustrophobia, but the young girl was starting to get extremely bad feelings about this entire ordeal.
“Make certain it is perfectly drawn, the song clearly states this. We do not want trouble, especially not from him, shakingly ordered Rosanna. What was she afraid of? And who was he they kept mentioning without a name?
Elyse bit down the insults boiling in her mind. I agreed to this ridiculous farce and now I have to endure. Damn my noble self. Deep down she knew it was probably more foolishness than nobility stopping her.
Had she known what demon they would summon, she would have run out of the orphanage’s basement, no looks behind, honour be damned. Alas, some rivers were probably just meant to run their course.
As if following a perfectly synced dance, Rosanna, Xonia and Marcella clasped their hands together all at once and started muttering, each syllable of their chant sending a tremor though Elyse’s bones.
“We are here now,
Children of no soul,
At the end of summer’s solstice and beginning of full moon’s night
At first she could easily distinguish Rosanna’s high pitched voice along with Xonia’s dulcet tones and Marcella’s throaty rasp, but as the strange song went on, Elyse found it difficult to focus on them individually. She could not see them that well either, the light of the candles perched on the brick walls flickering wildly due to the wind.
Wind? How could it be? The storage chamber was completely underground. However, she could not deny the frigid breeze playing with the material of her grey robe. Elyse’s skin got goosebumps. The temperature was definitely dropping.
“We are waiting,
We are waiting,
We are waiting for you, Dark Prince.”
Her head started pulsing and her lungs were aching with each breath. She had to lay down. What had they done to her?
Elyse closed her eyes. Everything hurt. With her mind spinning, she distantly registered their voices growing progressively louder. The girls behind the leading trio started chanting as well, their hums filling the basement’s air with deep notes.
“.... for the kiss of you power”
It was so cold. Inhaling and exhaling, a once so simple task, now proved to be an arduous hardship. What had she agreed her fate to?
“Offering a fair maiden as a sacrifice.”
With a hand on her chest willing her suffocating lungs to breathe, she deliriously heard the last verse. That must be her they were mentioning, however she doubted she would be alive for long to be sacrificed.
She felt a stabbing pang in her heart. Then nothing.
Everything went black.
It seemed like she were floating. Floating carelessly to a warm light when a far away noise stopped her journey. Elyse thought death would be a peaceful realm where she could finally meet her parents and all the friends she lost along the way. Instead, this rather strident voice was ruining it.
“Gimpy, wake up! Don’t you dare die, bitch.”
Now that was rude. No one in heaven was supposed to call her like that despite her disability. Unless she was still alive. Damn. Suddenly, she could finally taste the air again. Hardly had she filled her lungs with the sweet embrace of oxygen when someone called her again.
“Say his name! Say it.”
Opening her eyes tiredly, Elyse saw a furious looking Rosanna waving the ancient book in her face, mindful of the still drawn circle around her. Squinting, she read a name written in a bold crimson script, burning on the pages, everything else blank. Tiny tendrils of smoke started appearing on the imprint of the paper.
Lifting her upper body, she summoned her last powers to pronounce the damning word. “Azrael”
The moment it left her lips, Elyse knew her existence had changed irrevocably. And it had everything to do with the dark smoke emerging in front of her in the white circle. As the mist started taking a more earthly form, the blue eyed girl edged closer to the margin of the disk. She might be mistaken, but the being was starting to look more and more like a well built male, dark smoke covering everything but one trait.
Emerald green eyes. She trembled at the deceivingly human feature.
Green eyes that were predatorily stalking her every move.
The smoke started drifting. It seemed like...the mist was bowing in front of her. His eyes closed for one sole second only for them to jump back to watching her.
“I finally found you. My mistress.”