Title: Dark Tries

Author: Ageless Light

Beta-ed by: Unofficially by the second half of Agesless Light. But if someone would like to be my beta please PM me!

Main Characters/Pairing: Zacarias De La Cruz and Ashelia Sole, Amelyn Stormcloud and Dominic Dragonseeker, and Iris Airan and Lojos Jaegar.

Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal

Summary: It was fated. Ashelia and Zacarias were meant to be together. They could have meant randomly, at almost any time since her birth or in any situation. These are just five different but alternative ways they could have met.

Rating: T (Contains content suitable for teens and older)

Category: Writers Challenge, and a collection of five separate one-shots.

Specifics of the Writers Challenge: Named The Five Ways Challenge. A challenge posed to an author where they are to publish 5 individual one-shots each depicting an alternative way characters can meet. It can be from any fandom and does not have to be relationship centered. Altering of time-lines is encouraged. This challenge is from a Live Journal community focused on SGA (which the second writer from Ageless light was originally challenged) before it was brought to me.

Author Notes: This fic is based upon Feehan's world combined with my own of the Kylierion Empire. Though you do not have to, I would suggest reading Dark Moments, first in order to get a better understanding of the characters.

Spoilers: AU. Current, up to the beginning of Dark Peril.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Dark Series Universe or any of Christine Feehan's characters. I do own the OC's though. I went to babynames . com for my character names though. The original concept of the Ways came from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series. I however, have altered their purpose, make-up, and description to fit my fic. They are very different since I haven't even read the story, but if you like epic fantasy books; I encourage you to check them out.

Status: Complete

Created on: September 19, 2011

Word Count: 2,878 (Total-27,872)

A/N:This is dedicated to all of my reviewers! Thanks for all your support and encouragement!

Mirrored Self: Another Life

(2:53 Local Time, Somewhere in Amazon Rainforest)

She awoke slowly and sluggishly. Nothing was coherent, not even her own thoughts. A haze of confusion and blaring sounds surrounded her. It took some time for her body to register what was happening and even longer for her brain to understand the signals her body was sending. Pieces slipped into place and the strings of chaos were pulled apart. Everything was blurry and out of reach.

Something small and light was pelting at her from, and there was an odd tapping with an almost rhythmic feeling when it landed on her exposed skin. It felt cool and refreshing so she inhaled a moment before deciphering what her body was telling her.

As her mind cleared a bit, she began to recognize pain. The majority of her body was freezing cold, almost numb, yet in contrast she felt odd burning sensations in some places. The pain was overwhelming but after a second she was able to separate a mild throbbing and a piercing twist from the constant tingling throughout her form. Instinct told her to move and she tried to in the hopes of alleviating the hurt.

Like a dying ember suddenly given proper fuel and a burst of oxygen, every injuring flared up, bringing notice to dozens of other injuries. Muscles twitched and the tingling burning sensation exploded, leaving her unable to rise. White hot searing pain laced through her skull and all she could manage was a deep gasp of shock and pain. The sudden intake of breath irritated her chest and it felt tight, like something was stuck and she couldn't draw enough breath.

She didn't have time to panic or for anything else, because she suddenly felt smothered in darkness and she just couldn't fight anymore.

The darkness was everywhere and it breathed as if alive. There was a frightening tone to it and inky black shadows swirled around only to end up in places so dark it was like they were absorbed. Nothing could save her, not even herself. She was merely swallowed up by the darkness. All she knew was that she couldn't escape whatever menacing thing that was hiding or apart of the darkness. What scared her most were the brief flashes of horrible things that moved so fast they were unrecognizable. They may not have been recognizable but they felt familiar in some way. The only way to get away from it all was to get up and she reached for something familiar inside her.

At first she was not sure if it worked because everything was still so dark, but then she noticed she felt stiff and sore all over. Soft heavy clumps pushed down on her and when she took a deep breath she started to choke as her mouth became full. Her eyelids flew open and only to slip closed again to protect her eyes. Before fear could overcome her she lurched upright and pushed up. It took some effort because she felt restrained. Something hard was underneath her and had banded around her, encasing her in. It was not of immediate concern and she forced herself to move, pushing her body to continue and ignoring the signals her body relayed. A burning sensation in her chest grew and she tried to focus on her heart and not waste what little oxygen she had left.

The dirt tumbled down across her skin until she felt no resistance. At once her mouth and eyes opened starved for air. Nothing made any sense. Quickly she searched for answers. She had no recollection of falling asleep in this room. Confusion burst through her and panic started to well up.

Futilely, she tried to remember; but to her dismay and alarm, there were no answers in her mind. Everything was a total blank. What am I doing here, she asked herself, but she couldn't answer that simple question. Glancing around she realized the room was dark and the air was rather stale. There was absolutely no light either. Was she underground? A twist of something in her gut told her that she was right and she was underground. Looking down she noticed that she was sitting on a large mound of dirt and that a small hole was next to her. Horror filled her as she realized she had been buried alive.

Summoning every ounce of energy she threw herself as far away as she could and stared at the dirt as if something was going to climb up after her and drag her back down. Horrified she found she couldn't breathe. Minutes passed and she continued to crouch, waiting to spring into action but nothing happened. Slowly she regained control of her breathing. For some reason she hated being hidden from the sun and did not like being under the earth any longer than necessary. She wasn't supposed to be buried, ever. Not alive, and not dead. Something was not right. Warily, she made her way forward, back towards the hole. She needed answers and this was her best option at the present time.

She didn't want to climb back down in the hole and she had no tools to dig either. Running her hands through her hair in frustration she considered her situation. If there were clues in the ground she could accidently ruin them. She had no idea if her time was running out or what would happen if others found her not dead, so she had to move fast. Closing the distance until she was inches away from where she had previously laid she desperately wished for an easier way to remove the top level of soil. If she could get it to just move, she sighed.

Something stirred within herand like a key fitting into a lock, clicked into place. The air grew heavy for just a moment before the dirt shifted. With a started yelp she fell back, her hands immersed in soil as she realized that no creature was coming up and that the pile moved on its own. Before she could question anything her attention was drawn to the large hole in the ground.

Since it was still rather dark it was hard for her to see but she could make out a form. She hadn't been buried alone. Frantically, she searched her mind, for a connection. Judging by the frame it was a male and since he wasn't moving he had to be dead. Did she know him, were they close?

Nothing. She felt nothing at this revelation except for the sudden an dunexplainable sadness that crept into her heart at him being so devoid of life. While she lamented a loss of life, and suspected he was not an enemy, he was completely unrecognizable in her opinion, and she felt guilty for not knowing him. Steeling herself she turned away forcing herself to focus on escaping her tomb.

She had no idea how to judge time, but a lot must have passed before she made it out into another room. She contemplated how she was going to open the trap door in the ceiling when pins and needles filled her body and if she had been able to, she would have screamed at the sensation of her body being pulled into every direction. Seconds passed and then she was suddenly shuddering collapsed on a soft, warm carpeted floor. Whirling around she expected someone to scream and come running but she was alone. After catching her breath she kneeled down and following her instincts she flipped up a corner of the large rug under the bed. Just as she expected; that was the trap door she had just been under.

Knowing she couldn't stand in the middle of the room dumbly, she began to plan. Escaping and finding answers were at the forefront of her mind. She wasn't sure which one should be her priority and just decided to move. When she first woke up she had no answers and while her important questions still went unaddressed she was able to learn a lot in this room.

Like her room, as she called it, this room was bathed in darkness. But this room was fully furnished and had beautiful windows covered by sun blocking drapes. It was large, and looked to be a master bedroom style suite. Playing with the drapes she learned she was on a farm surrounded by a tropical forest. That helped narrow down her location from anywhere to actually helpful. Next she found the bathroom. While she hated being covered in grime and she left a mess whether she moved or not, she didn't want to chance someone hearing the water running.

Having forgone a cleaning she instead had stared at herself briefly in the mirror before turning away, completely unnerved. It was like looking at a stranger. An internal warning shook her up and she forced herself to keep moving.

Quickly, but efficiently she traveled through the large house. Every room was looked in. The house was empty but that didn't stop her from checking all of the doors, and memorizing floor plans. Before she was halfway through the second floor she had already planned what room she would use to hide in, where she could defend herself, and what rooms would simply trap her. She counted balconies and looked under every rug and in every closet. It was odd how her mind addressed what she saw. Everything was categorized and the smallest detail did not escape her notice. Interestingly, enough, the only secret room that she could find was the one she had been in.

The ground level floor was just as large and she noticed that the house was decorated expensively with blending colors and simple but elegant furniture. Beautiful paintings adorned the walls. Vases, sculptures and fresh flowers graced almost every flat surface. The floors were mostly wood but with soft rugs here and there.

As she walked through the house she noticed she moved silently and fluidly, almost like running water. There was a rhythm that she kept as she moved about. It was disconcerting because nothing seemed familiar. Was it her home? She wondered hoping for something, anything to be recognizable. The house was beautiful, something that many would dream about living in, but it felt cold, dead. There were no family pictures on the walls, no random scraps of paper lying around. None of the upstairs bedrooms had clothes in any of the closets and everything was perfectly in place. There were no marks on the floors, no scratches on the furniture. Any room that had a window was darkened by long, thick curtains. The only clue she was able to find was in the kitchen. People had to be near because there was food in the fridge and in the cabinets.

Her mind jumped and she knew exactly what to grab. She put down the candle stick she had grabbed and searched for a more formidable weapon. A large butcher knife was predictably grabbed, before she also found a meat hammer. To put her mind at ease she also grabbed a few steak knives. Everything was taken from a drawer and nothing on the counters was disturbed. She knew that if someone walked in they wouldn't notice anything out of order immediately. It was all about how much time she could gather for herself.

Food and cleaning supplies were loaded into a sack found hanging on the inside of a pantry door. Praying she wasn't making a huge mistake she headed towards the bedroom she had been buried under, after taking a small detour and grabbing some clothes from one of the other bedrooms, and took a shower. All she had was basic soap but it was better than nothing. The door was left open and she didn't close the curtain. It may have been odd but her mind did not balk at it, in fact she felt rather naked and vulnerable even just walking around, so bathing did not change anything. But she did keep her eyes on the door and listened for any sounds of life. The butcher knife was balanced on the tubs edge, always within arm's reach.

While she was attempting to finger comb her hair she stood in front of the mirror for a second time, air-drying herself. Looking at herself was mesmerizing. There was still no recognition but at least she didn't think she looked like a complete stranger. Slowly she took in every detail, memorizing her features. It was odd but her mind seemed to be drawn to each specific part of her, cataloguing them, analyzing them, injuries and all. Without dirt and sweat she was able to clearly see her features and was amazed at what she saw.

What first drew her attention were her eyes. She had purple eyes. She blinked a few times and leaned forward, as if unsure. She had bright purple eyes that seemed to glow. It wasn't a memory but she knew that her eye color wasn't normal, but she liked it. And she drew strength from it. Next was another unusual feature; her hair. Carefully her fingers combed through the loose tangles of shockingly white hair and marveled at how soft the strands were. Her hair was neither long nor short, just resting at the top of her breasts. Her eyes were large with sweeping arched brows and a small nose. Her cheeks and chin were all angles and she looked elegant, like a ballerina except without the too harsh bone structure. Her height was rather small and overall, she looked delicate and exotic. She wasn't vain-or at least she didn't think she was, but she was heads turning gorgeous. That much was obvious.

Vibrant colors were splashed across her skin and she thought the tattoos on her body were so detailed and sharp that they looked alive for a moment. There were four of them in total and the tattoos were large wrapping around her wrists and ankles extending to be several inches in width and length. She had noticed the tattoo on her right wrist first. Intricately carved wings with violet tips-the exact color of her eyes- wrapped around touching together on the underside of her wrist. Different phases of the moon, eight in all, were connected together like a bracelet with what appeared to be teardrops between them. Swirls of blue and grey in different shades spun on her skin like streams of water. After scrubbing her legs she had discovered the remaining two tattoos on her ankles. Dark green vines encircled her ankle only to branch off into an assortment of other pictures. Gems, maple leaves, and even a small sword seemed to bloom right off ends of the vines. The last tattoo was of a bird on fire and while it was magnificent in simplicity and without decoration showing pure power, she wondered why this one seemed plain compared to the embellishments of the others. There didn't appear to be any scars or even calluses on her hands.

With light fingers she had traced over every part of her skin that had been marked with ink. It was comforting, somehow, regardless of the fact that she seemed to be reacquainting herself with her own body. She exhaled softly, deep in thought. When she tried to recall her name she was met with a total blank. It was disconcerting to not know her own name, but since she didn't know anything, not knowing her name seemed inconsequential. Had she remembered her name it still wouldn't have answered her questions and it wouldn't told her who she was. That thought helped put things in perspective, and she moved on.

Overall, she appeared to be in a good physical condition despite her injuries. She had barely any fat and every time she moved muscles shown through her slender frame. She was toned. Maybe she was a dancer? It was a possibility. She didn't think she was an athlete she didn't have that type of build or the muscles needed for something like that. The way she moved while stalking through the house would suggest a dancer but maybe with something a bit more dangerous. Martial arts training maybe? She could have spent forever hypothesizing about her past but she didn't want to guess. She wanted to know.

After she showered she poured bleach all over the bathroom. Subconsciously, she moved to toss her old clothes in there as well, but for some reason she couldn't let herself do that. They hung there in her hand while she debated the pros and cons. The clothes were beyond repair, shredded and stained with dirt, blood, and sweat, but she had woken up in them and she refused to part with them. They were the only thing she had on her in this temporary state, so she wrapped them in a towel and shoved them to the bottom of the sack. Fresh bread was consumed while she refilled up the water jug she found.

After another moment just staring at the trap door and whispering a prayer to the other poor soul she felt connected to she was ready to go.

The final One-shot! This One-shot was long, but since I got complaints about the lengths in the previous ones I cut this one in half. Anyway Dark Tries is finished and I have completed the 5 Ways Challenge! Someone submitted one of my one-shots so I am waiting to hear if I became a finalist! I would like to thank all my readers and reviewers! I hope you enjoyed this alternate reality/universe for Ashe & Zac to meet!

Many people reviewed or PMed and asked if I could turn some of my one-shots into something more. While I would open to it, which one would you guys like? I might be able to expand the one-shots into two-shots or a short story! Maybe I'll make a poll. Hmm.

Your comments fuel my passion for writting, so please leave me a review with your thoughts, comments, and advice! Also let me know if you want a little more insight or for me to expand a one-shot.

~Ageless Light