Joss owns all; I keep the dustbunnies at bay.
Edited and updated: July 26th, 2008

Fires blazed for miles around, painting a sunset of cinders and smoke. It embodied the end of an era; the downfall of the world.

A new world was rising from the ashes, being forged from the broken bones of the inferior race that had come before. Humans. They rose from the sludge, and had long since passed the height of their evolution. They had been degrading the species for the last century; she merely sped up the process.

Now their blood was part of the new soil, and would grow fertile crops to replace the old ones. Even though her armies were busy sweeping the world to eradicate the humans, Illyria still found some of their kind, slinking around like vermin. If they disgusted her, she let one of her foot soldiers take care of the problem without so much as batting an eye to acknowledge their existence. If they intrigued her, which they often did, she took a moment to marvel over their tears and then removed the fast-beating heart from the chest cavity. It was the highest respect, in her opinion. The human body fascinated and revolted her. She was trapped in the form of a human. It was a primitive, weak body, so to cover her shame she made sure that there would be no other despicable creatures that resembled her. She planned to restore the world to the demons once again, and eliminating the weakest races would keckle her plans from failure.

She held the warm heart in her hand, continuously awed by the contractions of the muscles, slowly dying, as it was no longer connected to a life source. Yet, it was a life source. Life and death held little meaning to her, except to wonder how she lived without a beating heart.

Blood flowed from the heart, over her hand, and dripped onto the floor of her temple as she walked towards the throne room. Her prized possessions waited for her there; two half-blooded beings of exceptional beauty. They were unmistakably human in appearance, as was Illyria, but on the inside, they were so much more. Her young lady lounged on the throne, dressed in white silk and lace that had began to tatter and fall apart. She stared off blankly, with no sign of life except for her fingers absently stroking Illyria's chained pet. He was an insolent vampire who refused to submit to his queen, but seemed to helplessly bend to the maiden's gentle hand.

When Illyria entered the area, the young woman appeared to come back from a trance, eyes focusing on Illyria's blue form. She stopped stroking the vampire, red lips parting, as if about to speak uncertain words, but not so much as a breath escaped them.

"It keeps its rhythm even after it is severed," Illyria said, holding up the heart to admire it a moment longer and then shifted to extend it to the young woman. "Blood flows through the body in those pulses, like many tides. Is this not then an ocean?"

Her lady nodded slightly, taking the offered heart in her hands and clutching it to feel the lingering pulse within. The heart had stopped beating, but she still felt the echoes.

"I hold an ocean," she told the envious stars that weren't aloud to see such wonderful things. It was all blocked away by the smoke and the clouds, shielding it all from their many eyes. "So many waters in the palm of my hand…. So much suffering." Her eyes had closed, and she began to rock where she sat, quietly beginning to laugh as little drops of blood rained down, making fresh stains on her dress to match the old ones.

"Do you see it all?" Illyria asked wonderously. The girl was an epicenter of undiluted power, and the shockwaves were only beginning to tear her apart. Like Illyria, the girl's body couldn't contain her vast power for long, and so Illyria was trying to siphon off some of that mystical energy.

"I taste it all," the dark-haired girl whispered in reply, holding the heart close to her mouth and then delicately licking the warm piece of flesh. Her eyes rolled up as she sighed in rapture, savoring the taste of slaughter. The chained vampire rose up cautiously, leaning over the young woman's lap with concern and whispering her name.

"Dawn," he murmured. "Don't let yourself go. It's a dark place."

Her eyes snapped open, a sharp green that continuously shifted, like a shimmering mist. Eyes were the window to the soul, and hers were beginning to reveal what really ran through her veins.

"It is a ripe and nourishing fruit."

"It only leads to suffering," he warned her severely.

Dawn switched the heart into her other hand, smacking him across the face with her right. He fell back onto the floor from the blow and stayed there, a smear of blood on his cheek mocking him. He wasn't stopped by her strength… she barely had any. It was the simple fact that she had struck him which kept him down. He was losing her.

"Life… is suffering," Dawn stated, cupping the slick heart in her hand and stroking it. "Life no longer exists here," she added, squeezing the organ. Her fingers sank into the raw flesh, and blood freely streamed down her pale arm. She opened her fist, letting the heart drop onto the floor and then wiggled her blood-stained fingers slowly, admiring the bright red. Breaking from her absent-mindedness, she finally looked back at Illyria, and beckoned her with the bloody digits.

"Come," Dawn whispered, placing her fingertips against her lips again, tongue just barely darting out to test the flavors of exquisite agonies. She reached out, then, offering her queen the chance. "Have a taste."