Chapter 1

My aching, bruised and weary body would run no farther through shadowed trees and roots trying to grab me. My jaw connected harshly with the frozen ground when a root caught my foot. As I heard the howl of wolves and behind other roots moved in, trapping my arms and legs, holding me prisoner to the dank earth. As the howls grew closer I tried to move again against the earth's bindings, but my body lost its strength.

As the howls reached their climax the shadowed face of the man appeared and then the gunshot. I jolted from the dream.

This time it was the rattling of the train as we made for London, Britain's mother city and home of Queen Victoria.

"Is it the dream again, Ivy?" my elder half sister, Crimson, asked, noting my sudden startle.

I only nodded, finding no suitable words. For what can a girl say of a dream that haunts her sleep endlessly? It was always the same; the forest with their reaching roots and branches, the fall, the wolves, the man's face, and then the gunshot. It disturbed me deeply. Every other time I'd had dreams like this something terrible always ensued.

"Are you feeling okay, Ivy?" Crimson asked in a Transylvanian accent that matched my own.

"Fine." I knew she worried, and rightly so, for my sleep had been haunted by darkness as of late. Then there was also the issue of my deteriorating health, thanks to the unwelcome but inescapable fact that I was half demon. This was the reason of our journey to London.

"Things will be better once we find Jasper." I noted.

Crimson met my gaze with her own hard ice stare. "As much as I dislike him, yes, he is our best hope."

Jasper Hex, the only man, well, demon actually, that I had ever or would ever love. It only makes sense he was my last hope to live.

"Are you sure this is the right place, Crimson?" I asked. "It looks empty, let alone creepy."

"That only makes it more interesting. Come on!"

I was helpless as she pulled me through the door into the dark room.

The place looked as though no one had cleaned it in months.

"Hello? Is anyone here?" I asked quietly.

"He he he. Do I finally have the ultimate pleasure of addressing the Black Scythe Princesses?" a strange echoic voice questioned.

I drew a knife out of nervousness.

"Who are you? Show yourself!" Crimson demanded, her knife drawn also.

"Very well."

A coffin opened towards the back of the room and an odd looking man cloaked in black with long silver hair stepped out. Despite the silver hair, he neither looked old or young, but rather ageless. His black crooked top-hat gave him at least seven inches and silver bangs hid his eyes. They were so thick I wondered how he could see. From under the bangs a long scar crossed the bridge of his nose and right cheekbone. Another circled his left small finger, adding to his already creepy appearance. For a man (or perhaps not) his fingernails were quite long, at least an inch and a half, and painted black. Other than that his slim figure was cloaked in black.

"I knew it! The Black Scythe Princesses! Come in, come in! There's a cake just done in the oven for your arrival. Help yourselves!"

"You're the one they call Undertaker?" I asked.

"Why of course! Revealing one's true name can be very dangerous here, Missy Maddox," he said in an odd tone.

"Um, where are we to put our bags?" I asked him.

"Oh, I suppose you do need somewhere to sleep. How do coffins sound?"

"GYAHAHAHA!" He proceeded to fall against a table in fits of hysteric cackles.

" Gotcha didn't I? There's a back room set up for you. You can put your things there."

Crimson and I moved in that direction as he crumbled into fits of cackles again.

Great…we were being hosted by a crazy man.

I lay awake on the sofa after the place went silent. I listened to my sister's soft breathing on the floor by the sofa. She'd insisted on taking the floor on argument that I might sleep better were I more comfortable. I knew sleep would not come peacefully though. It hadn't in eight years.

I turned my head to look at Crimson. Her face looked so peaceful, free of the stress our lives brought. If I could release the tension, even just a bit, I would jump at the chance. But I was the reason of her worries now, though I wished it was otherwise; deteriorating health, the dreams, and the fact that my own power was slowly killing me. Not to mention the fact that now both our lives were in danger, the reason we had to find Jasper.

Crimson….I owed her more than my life was worth, yet she fought so hard to save it. She had always been there for me, taught me everything; socializing, to fight, and how to hunt the demon. Hell, she practically raised me after our mother lost her mind upon discovery that her second born, me, was half demon. I'd always admired her, strength and beauty I didn't have. Her fiery wild red hair and sparkling cobalt eyes made her the first noticed in any crowd. Whereas my plain black hair and amber eyes seemed to ward people off, an unwelcome trait from my father, who I never cared to meet. The only useful thing was that it seemed to attract demons fairly well.