The Bliss of the Dark

"Hah, hah, hah, hah." They panted running up the stairs, two other people following them. They stopped on the spiral staircase, somewhere between fifteen and fourth-five stories above the ground. A single door in front of them- only a few meters away, and they all rested to catch their breath. "I'll go first-" The leader offered, and reached for the rotted wood of the tower room. They had fought their way through monsters, and demons of all sorts to get to this door- the tower room where the real challenge, kept to itself. The castle was old, the stones worn on the outside from all sorts of weathering- both chemical and mechanical. The floors were collapsing in some places and rotted in others. It was amazing the creature was able to carry another through the dark labyrinth of traps, pit falls, monsters, and the torment of the elements.

He reached for the medieval door mechanism- a simple iron ring, which you would push up to open the door. Slowly and patiently, they opened the door, and slowly pushed it open, revealing an old room with terminate-eaten furniture and moth bitten-rugs. The only things not covered in dust and spider webs, was a large mattress, in the center of the room, where a girl lay, wrapped in a single, thin, moth-bitten sheet, shivering from the cold that the old style windows let in. That was what they were here for.

"Alza." They whispered softly to the girl, who shivered, and curled up even more. They glanced up at the ceiling of the room; all of them crouched down to hide themselves. The Demon was there, wrapped up like a sleeping bat. It unfurled its wings momentarily, stretching them in its sleep, before wrapping back up tightly to keep its self warm. Such a selfish and arrogant beast had no use in keeping Alza around. So why did it? Out of everyone it killed and slaughtered, why keep her around? "Alza." They called once more, and the girl blinked, and looked at the door sleepily, before stirring, holding herself up with her elbows, but not her full arms and her eyes widened. They gestured her over, mouthing, 'Come on!' and 'Hurry!' She looked up at the demon who slept above her, and then at them. Slowly, her moth-bitten blanket slid off, and she sat up.

She made a 'Get out of here!' Gesture, and mouthed 'GO!', before there was a horrid screech and the demon fell from the ceiling, crashing down into the floor, making a crater and shaking the entire tower. It put one of its grotesque claws on the mattress, next to Alza, and she whimpered softly, as it lowered its neck, its head past her shoulder, stared at them with its horrible glowing eyes. It hissed, its wings unfurled, warning them, daring them to make the first move. It's other hand on the edge of the mattress in front of her, and it hissed, pulling back cracked, ash black lips, revealing its long vampire-like fangs, the size of daggers, both of its lower and upper mandible held nothing but large rows of sharp, serrated teeth, curled inwards to keep its unfortunate prey in its mouth.

"Again, you come to steal from me?" It asked wrapping its long, bony fingers around the girl's waist, pulling her closer and she whimpered, tears forming in her eyes, "You're persistent."

"Leave Alza with us, you don't need her!" The Leader yelled, and he chuckled darkly, shaking his head from side to side as well as the long spikes on its head that lines its spine and went down to its tail, from which another clawed hand was, as the tail swished back and forth. The long white braid of its mane, that betrayed the creature's ash color, hung over its shoulder, the tip brushing against Alza's leg, making she shudder. "Just…pick someone else, Demon. Alza had done no ill-deed- her family is waiting for her to come home." It chuckled darkly, releasing her waist, standing up on its hind legs, which made one question how such skinny legs could support his frame of large wings, hair, and curled ram's horns.

"Oh, but she's mine now. Remember? You gave her to me." The Demon smirked, and looked at her, grinning, "Isn't that right, my darling? Oh, but such a selfless girl cares only about her village and her friends!" It said, dropping to all fours and walking around in front of her, its tail wrapping around her waist loosely, "Since you gave her to me, she's mine now. No take-backsies, little children." The Leader pointed a gun at it, and started shooting. It grabbed Alza who yelled, as it galloped and jumped out the window, the three running over to it and watching as the demon flew away, carrying their friend away. "Damn it!"

~O~O~O~

"Hmph. Another Castle location revealed. Time to relocate, my dear." It said, looking at the castle it had just run from, so far behind it was just a small speck, and back at her, and she sat there on snowy path he had landed upon. She cried into her hands miserably, sobbing, and he fell back to all fours, "You shouldn't cry, your tears will freeze up and you'll go blind, my dear. Come along now." It said, wrapping a wing around her, and she winced, flinching away, and he pulled back slightly. "Don't be frightened of me, my darling. After all, we're going to be life-long partners, so you'd better get used to me, no?" He chuckled darkly, walking past her, stopping a few feet away, looking back at her. "Hm? Why aren't you coming?" He asked, and she glanced back, wiping her eyes,

"P…please…just a few more minutes, Sir." She begged, and he turned, walking back over to her, sitting next to her, snorting, "I…I'm just…trying to keep warm. It's so very cold…"

"I thought I told you to call me, 'husband'." He said in her ear, and she cringed, but he pulled back. "I will help warm you up when we get to our new home, but a blizzard is coming, so we must move rather quickly." She hugged her knees to her chest, and he changed form, standing next to her in a long black coat, his horns, ash grey skin, and white hair remaining, but he was now more humanoid than his real looks. He took off his coat and wrapped it around her, putting it on her, "Come, I will carry you." He told her, crouching down, and she stood up turning to him, and getting on his back, and he held her legs under his arms, turning and walking away from the castle, piggy-backing her. "Don't worry, my dear, this next one is one of y favorites- you won't have to sleep on some mattress with a moth-bitten blanket again…Alza." She shuddered against his back, and he smirked. "Hm…such a pretty name." "Ow…" He stopped and looked back, seeing he had forgotten to step aside, as a sharp rock that was jetting out from the mountainous path as ripped through his coat she wore, and cut into her skin. He side stepped away, and the rock withdrew from her pierced flesh, a drop of blood fell, and he caught it on his tongue. He turned her around to carry her in his arms, her legs around him, her back against a rock, as he feverishly licked her open wound, making her shiver. He blew on it, and the flesh closed, "Much better. Come; let's try to get there as quickly as possible. You've made me very hungry, little girl." She whimpered, and he carried her bridal-style, the rip in the coat vanished, and he made himself a new cloak.

~O~O~O~

They returned to the village they were staying at, discouraged and dishearten. He wasn't going to give her up. It was part of his sick, sick plan! "Hey, Jack, don't worry about it. We'll go to where he lives next…" Derek said, and Jack shook his head, Austin frowned and drank away.

"Was it really right to give up Alza to save our village?" Austin wondered, looking into his cup of ale, and drank it down in one gulp.

"Well…the reason was because, you know- we thought she was clumsy and useless. Ironic how we need her now, right?" Derek said to Austin, and Jack sighed. "Alza…looked sad but looked as if she didn't regret her choice."

~Flash Back~

"Guys, guys, wait up!" She called, and the three of them stopped, and she tripped, falling flat on her face, and they groaned, but she got to her feet and went over to them. "What are you guys doing?" She asked, smiling.

"We're storing food for when the Demon comes back." Austin said, running a hand through his mahogany hair. "I hear they want to offer someone to the demon to make him go away- like they used to offer virgins to dragons that were attacking villages, back in the day?" Derek looked at him and Alza blinked, Jack glancing at the others, before snorting,

"Who would they offer up? With such a tight-nit community here, everyone loves everyone." Jack said, standing up from throwing a package of grain into the cellar of their home. "Hey- what do you guys think? Who should be offered up?" Alza raised her hand.

"I know!" Alza said, and Jack pointed to her and she lowered her hand, "I think…I should be offered up." She smiled happily, "Then- everyone will be happier, because I'm a burden, right?"

~End of Flash back~

"I miss her optimism…she looks so hurt now." Derek said sadly, and Austin and Jack nodded. "We'll find her and save her, ok? Don't worry about it." Austin told Jack, who took another swig of his drink. "Who said we would stop looking?" Jack asked and his brothers grinned, "To victory over the demon who has taken our princess!" Jack said, and they clashed mugs, "AYE!"

~O~O~O~

She lay on pillows, and was silent, as the Demon ordered his minions around, looking at the floor. "Now get out! I want some time alone with my woman." She shivered. That translated to something she didn't like. The doors shut and he sat down next to her in his humanoid form, "Are you comfortable, my dear?" He asked her, and she looked at him, and he laid against the pillows next to her, "Why do you not smile for me?" She looked down,

"I'm sorry, de- husband; I just…don't have the energy." She said, and he blinked, changing to his real looks and length. "I'm so tired."

"You're always 'tired'." He pointed out in his naturally raspy voice- it was like rubbing sandpaper against sandpaper. "You flinch when I come close, wince when I touch you, and brush me aside with the idea that sleep is more important." She looked away guiltily. She did all of those things- no need to lie, and now she felt bad about it. He reached over to her and took a strand of her hand into his claws, bringing it to his face and nuzzling it. She had never heard of Demons who were romantic, she had only heard of them taking virgin maidens and eating their hearts. They'd suck out the beauty from their victims and add their flesh to their own skin, before using their bodies as their own and their bones for their bread. She feared him more than she feared death. "Is something the matter?" He asked her, and she shook her head, and he released her hair, watching as it floated down to lay with the rest of her hair. He took the hem of the dress she wore into his palm, tattered and ripped. "Take this off, its ratty and dirty." He said, making a move to take them off, but she put a hand on his, looking at him,

"Please don't…" She begged, "I…It's the only thing I have left of my village. My mother made it for me. I'll change into something else, but I'll keep this around…" He groaned, releasing the dress hem,

"Then change." He told her, and she nodded, getting up and going over to the door, opening it as he lay there, waiting.

"Um…e-excuse me…" She squeaked, and the two guards outside their door looked at her. "Do you know where my wardrobe is?"

"Yess." They answered, "Shall we get your sssomething?"

"Could you get me something that I can sleep in?" She asked and they nodded, one of them leaving and she shut the door, going back over and sitting in front of the demon. He reached out and offered his hand to her, and she looked at it for a while, before hesitantly placing her hand into it, and the long fingers tenderly wrapped around her hand which was so small compared to his, and he guided her over. The guard opened the door and laid the requested cloth in front of her, and left. She leaned forward and grabbed the clothes, going to the bathroom and changing before coming back. She wore a red dress with a wrap around, and he helped her over like he had before, and she lay down with him.

"You look very good in that dress." He told her, and she didn't respond.

"When are you going to kill me?" She asked and he looked at her with shock.

"Kill you?" He chuckled, "What gives you the idea I'm going to kill you?"

"You're not going to take my flesh for yours or eat my heart?" She asked, and he shook his head in a 'no'. "…I was told you would do that…" He wrapped her up in one of his wings and she shuddered.

"I will not heart your heart, I will not take your body, won't take your flesh at my own, I won't take your beauty, and I certainly won't make your bones into bread." He told her, correcting all the false tales. The demon pulled her over and ran the tips of its claws through her hair as she started crying, as he slowly rubbed her back with his free hand.

"I want to go home! I want to go home so badly! I miss everyone…" She sobbed and he continued to rub her back.

"There, there, my sweet, it's alright. They don't miss you, but I'm here for you." He told her and she kept crying,

"I'm so afraid of you! You're going to kill me!" She cried and the Demon kissed her forehead.

"Oh, I'm not going to kill you, my dear, I just want you to be happy." He told her, brushing some hair out of her face. "I'll protect you from the world and its cruel judgment, just stay here. Now sleep. You're so tired." She sniffed and laid her head against his chest and closed her eyes, falling asleep. He kissed her cheek, lying back on the pillows, pulling out a blanket and wrapping her up in it, as well as his wings.