A Demon in Her
“Who are you,” Oryn asks with a shaky breath. He was on his knees, no doubt from my doing, but I rather liked the look on him. I smiled at the sight, Oryn’s eyes widening at the sight.
His face had a pale sheen to it, and something in me wondered at that. Was his nightmare truly so terrible that it caused such a reaction to him?
I turned my head to the side, my hair tumbling down. At some point, it had come out of its braid. Truthfully, I much rather liked it this way.
The other one always liked to keep it back, away.
“Why Oryn, don’t you recognize me?” I say in mock confusion. “It’s me, Aurelia.”
“You’re not Aurelia.” He says as I take another step from him. He doesn’t move an inch.
Most, I think, would be frightened to see night incarnate stalking towards them. Especially after the number, I pulled on him. I smiled at the thought, at the delicious taste, of his nightmare, of his darkness.
He had a lovely aftertaste.
“I guess not,” I say, remembering he had spoken. “But you asked what happened when the mask was gone. Well, here it is….sunshine.” I throw the hideous nickname back at him, the one he always tossed at me like some joke. Oryn stood, the darkness that I was holding back now slithering towards him, reaching, feeling, wanting. Fear would not be the word I would use to describe the expression on his face as he looked at me, as he saw me for the first time. Apprehensive with a mixture of unease was painted into his beautiful features.
I kept walking forward until I was standing before him, his eyes never leaving mine. Now that all the confusion and...emotion...was gone, I could see the blue in his eyes even more clearly.
They were fathomless, as far stretching as the horizon and as deep as the sea.
I reached up, running a finger along his sharp jawline, the stubble along his chin pricking my finger.
“What happened in the shadow?” He asked, his breath causing a few stray hairs to sway. His tone was coming back, his strength starting to return from the nightmare I unleashed.
“I got a little boost from that lovely darkness of yours,” I say, tucking a piece of his hair behind his ear. “Truly terrifying, I must say.”
“Where is Aurelia.” He asks again, his eyes boring into mine. I could sense the tension rolling off of him, “Who are you.”
“Don’t be so scared,” I say gently, my voice pure and lilting. I lean in so that my next words would tickle the shell of his ear. “I’m not going to bite.”
I punch him in the gut, letting the full force of my darkness propel me forward. There was strength in terror, and I intended to unleash that on this abhorrent city.
I intended to get Carena back.
Oryn doubled over, the breath leaving him as he crumpled to the floor. He didn’t even stand a chance. Before he could collect himself, I push him over and straddle him, my hand resting upon his chest. I grabbed the dagger that was strapped to his belt, the sound of it unsheathing sounding cold, making my skin shiver. I smiled as I looked down, his hand coming up to grab my wrist, his strength shocking as he held me in place. His eyes were focused on the knife, then on me, then back to the knife.
“Why are you doing this?” He said through gritted teeth, “What’s gotten into you?”
“What’s gotten into me?” I ask, my voice turning bitter. I lean into his hand, the one that wrapped around the hilt of the knife. Adding my body weight gained an inch of leverage over him. A vein popped in Oryn’s neck. I smile, “After years and years of hiding, of waiting, you have finally released me, Oryn. I should thank you. I should, but I have a sister to find and a King to kill. I don’t want anyone standing in my way.”
Oryn chuckled as he squirmed beneath me.
“You know,” Oryn says. “You could have just asked for help.”
“You’ll only get in the way,” I say, the knife pushing closer. I felt a jolt, a feeling of weightlessness, and then Oryn was on top of me. Oryn held my hands above me, pinning them in place. The knife clattered away, falling over the edge and towards the floor below. I distantly heard the clatter of it against the cobblestone beneath, but no matter. There were other ways to get rid of the gargantuan man.
“Answer me this.” Oryn says, “How is it that all this time has gone by and you have never made an appearance before?”
I chuckle as I meet his gaze.
“Trust me, honey. I’ve made an appearance, she’s just never told you about it.” I enjoy the confused look he gives me, even though he tries his best to hide it. “Think about it. Did you think that Aurelia would push all her power away for so long because she felt like it?”
“She had to because she would have been caught.”
“She did because she was scared.”
“You talk as if you’re two different people,” Oryn says. I thrash, bucking my hips to try to throw him off of me. Oryn hardly budges as I move, his strength and composure now fully regained. I knew I could force him off with my power, that I could just push that darkness into him. He was touching my hands after all.
But a part of my heart cracked at the idea.
I didn’t want to hurt him.
I didn’t want to hurt anybody.
The darkness dimmed a moment, the light starting to infiltrate my shadows. I tried to claw my way through, to break through the suffocating darkness that surrounded my soul. I needed out, I needed to keep Oryn safe...
Curse this stupid mountain man and his kind heart. I would hurt anybody who stood in my way. I looked up at Oryn. This conversation was interesting, and I didn’t want to completely kill him. He has proven useful so far. I didn’t mind drawing this out a bit longer.
“Because we are two different people.” I finally answer, letting my body relax under his grip, hoping that he would ease up. Oryn didn’t buy it for one minute. He keeps his weight settled over me, not once loosening his grip. “There is a war that wages beneath this skin; one of light and darkness that is far older than you realize and much deeper than you know.”
“What does that even mean.” He says, putting more weight on me.
“You know,” I say, not being phased by his strength. “She’s quite fond of you, even though she doesn’t dare admit it to herself. I mean, I can see why physically. But mentally?” I tsk, shaking my head to show my disapproval. “You are rather thickheaded.”
“Aurelia.” He says, looking deep into my eyes, looking past the darkness that surfaces there. “Aurelia I know you’re in there. Fight this, fight the darkness. Come back to me.”
I choke out a laugh, harsh and cruel.
“Come back to you?” I say, looking at the urgency and worry deep in his eyes. Realization dawned on me then, a different sort of smile coming to my face. “Oh, dear. Don’t tell me you care for her?”
Oryn said nothing as he kept my hands pinned up above me. I laughed, Oryn only watching me with more worry and desperation. “You do care for her! Oh, this is too precious. How does it feel to have fallen for a monster?”
“You’re not a monster,” Oryn says without missing a beat. I called the darkness then, letting it wrap around him and pull him off of me. We flipped, me back on top of him, the darkness wrapped around his arms and pinning them down.
“Oh, you who knows nothing of consequence. You only know the surface of the truth because beneath it all, beneath the fear and the worry and the shame, Aurelia hides a monster that’s scratching to destroy this world,” I lean down to whisper in his ear. “She was born for this.”
“What do you mean?” He asks, turning his head. Much to my disappointment, he seemed unfazed by the darkness that held him in place. Much like that first day he walked into that cursed library. I turn my head, considering.
He was very different from the rest.
He was very different.
“You listen to me and you listen closely,” I say, whispering into his ear still. My words come out in a hiss. “I’m only going to say this once. The path that is laid before her is a long, difficult road. She and I are very different, but she must learn to merge the two. If she doesn’t, it will be one or the other. Do you understand?”
“No...I don’t know...” He starts. I grip the front of his shirt, pulling him off the floor a bit to get his attention.
“Why do you think the King wants her? Why do you think he would want a ruthless monster like me at the rise of a Civil war? He knows, Oryn. He knows the depth of our power and what it looks like. We are a double-edged sword. Put that into the wrong hands and you’ve got a much larger issue than you want to deal with. You stay near her, near me. You don’t give up, do you understand?”
Oryn nods, his eyes getting a determined glaze over them that settled the agitation that was growing. “I promise.”
“Keep it this time,” I say, leaning forward and pressing my lips to his.
Warmth surged through me as I kissed him, hot and blazing. At first, Oryn was tense underneath me, his lips unmoving. I let the darkness fall from his wrists, his hands coming up to cup my face as we kissed, and I found him kissing me back.
The cold that had its grip around me loosened.
The darkness faded away.
Warmth surged through me, filling every part of me.
I was kissing Oryn.
I opened my eyes, pulling away from him, but only slightly.
“Oryn?” I whisper, the clarity and strength from a moment before left, leaving me dizzy and disoriented. A storm of emotions brewed behind his eyes, but a tentative smile crossed his lips as he tucked a stray piece of my hair behind my ear.
“I’d say your lessons in intimidation have been going well.”
“I thought you needed help,” A voice says to our left. “This does not look like you need help.”
We both turn to find not only Kova, but also Arryn, Edward, Brina, and Kierian standing at the top of the spiral stairs; all of them with mouths hanging open and wide eyes.
I fell off Oryn, my entire body catching fire with embarrassment. I look down at my hands, then up at Oryn, then over at the group of them. I’m sure I looked like a gaping fish.
What had just happened?
“What’s going on?” I hear Kierian ask, everything seeming to snap into movement all at once. I close my eyes, running both hands through my now unbound hair.
“We had a...slight issue,” Oryn says, getting up from where I had been holding him. “But I had it under control.” I snap my attention to him at that, panic and frustration filling me up.
“Don’t lie,” I say, my voice shaky and uneven. “There was nothing under control about what just happened. I could have killed you Oryn.” I say, ignoring the group of them coming to stand around us completely. I focused on Oryn because what had just happened was not okay. “I was going to kill you.”
“Aurelia, no,” Oryn said, moving over so he knelt in front of me. He tried to reach out and touch me, to comfort me, but I pull away from his outstretched fingers.
“You should not touch me right now. I’m a danger to anyone and everyone here.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see Arryn take a step away as darkness slithered along the ground, stirring at my burst of emotion.
“Will someone please tell us what is going on!” Kova says, anger filling her voice. “One-second Oryn is yelling in my head for help and the next I know I show up and you two are kissing?” A flash of hurt flares across Arryn’s face as she looks to the ground, her fingers curling into fists. I look from Arryn to Kierian, who watches me with an interested gaze.
“You discovered the shadow world, didn’t you?” Kierian says, a smile spreading on his face. I freeze at the words, confused and not sure I was hearing him right.
“How did you…” I begin.
But a blur of movement from the corner of my eye has me hesitating. The next thing I know, Oryn is tackling Kierian to the ground, rolling and then coming out on top.
“How do you know about that?” Oryn says in a low voice. I stand up, rushing to pull Oryn off Kierian, but Edward stops me from moving further. I meet his gaze, and he only gives me a minute shake of his head.
“I can see it too,” Kierian says, his words coming out in a rush. “My power is light. If there wasn’t any light, there would be no shadows. I know the shadow world is there, but I cannot access it as she can.”
“And why are you just mentioning this lovely bit of information now?” Oryn says, shaking Kierian a little.
“Because I didn’t think she would be able to access it!” Kierian says, his voice sounding a bit frantic as Oryn pushes into him.
“Get off him Oryn,” I say, ignoring Edward and running up to the two. I push at Oryn, who stands and walks away from the two of us, running a hand through his hair. I reach down and help Kierian up, his hand burning with a sticky warmth.
“You need to be careful Aurelia.” He says in a quiet tone. “The shadow world is something that I have always feared. It’s a world of fear and temptation, and by the looks of it, you gave in. Didn’t you?”
“Something like that,” I whisper, not wanting to go into details. I turn, looking at the others who were now watching in stunned fascination. I let out a sigh. It’s been a week since I had seen any of them, and now that they were here, I wasn’t sure how to explain everything that has happened.
I didn’t have the energy to explain everything that happened.
“What time is it?” Oryn asks, spinning to look at us. There were dark circles under his eyes, and he looked as if he hadn’t slept in a week. A pang of guilt shot through me as I realized that I had been the one to cause that. I averted my eyes, not wanting to look at him. Flashes of his nightmare flew through my mind, every sick detail of it still spinning through me.
“Nearly five,” Kova replies. “Why?”
I feel Oryn’s gaze settle on me, but I was still too cowardly to look back.
“If we leave now, we can get to the banquet in time to speak to the Captain,” Oryn says. A spike of fear pounded through me as I finally looked up at him, shaking my head.
“Excuse me, do you mean Captain Marion?” Kova says, stalking up to Oryn, her heeled boots clicking against the metal floor. “I think it’s high time you start explaining yourself, now.”
“Does Marilla know you’re here?” Oryn asks, meeting Kova’s gaze. She folds her arms, shaking her head.
“She’s on her way back from Lanercoast. She should be here later tonight.”
“Good,” Oryn says, looking at each individual that made the Marked Guard. “This might work.”
“No, Oryn,” I interrupt, recognizing he was still thinking about going through with our plan. “I can’t do that again.”
“You have to.” He says. His hands settle on my shoulders, even though I tried to escape him. He forced me to stand still, looking up at him. “We have to get Carena. We have to get you away from Abberton.”
“But what if...change?” I whisper, not wanting the others to hear.
“I won’t let that happen.” He says, “Besides. I think your evil side likes me a little.”
“No,” I say, “She really doesn’t.”
“That’s beside the point.” He says, meeting my gaze. “I’ll make sure you don’t do anything stupid.”
“You promise?” I ask a little sarcasm dipping into my voice.
“With everything I am,” He whispers. I let out a long breath, nerves, and anxiety swirling and heightening as I realize what I have to do tonight. I still didn’t know what happened, and to be honest, I didn’t remember much of what went on between myself and Oryn. I only remembered how I felt; the power, the clarity, the strength. Everything else was a blur of sorts.
But it wasn’t about me, I reminded myself. Carena was still out there and I wasn’t going to let my fear stand in the way.
“Okay.” I say to Oryn, “Let’s do this.”
Oryn smiles, giving me a wink as he turns and looks at the others in the room. “Alright, here’s the plan.”