Author's Note: The song I wrote this to is "She Waits By The Well" by Faith and the Muse. This is one of those songs that sounds creepy even if you can't make out the lyrics, and then you look up the lyrics online and go, "Holy shit this is creepy!". I seriously recommend that you listen to the song while you read, it adds... atmosphere, let's say. Faith and the Muse isn't classified as a Darkwave duo for nothing.

Warnings: Very dark, slash, some violence, some rather disturbing similes.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Coldfire Trilogy, as is proven by the fact that Ms. Friedman had Gerald pretty much totally defeated, and I prefer to hand him Erna on a silver platter.

A.N.2: Like in "Darkness Lays Her Crimson Cloak", this takes place (mostly) post-BSR, but ignores WTNF and CoS. There are two ways to interpret this piece, really: that Damien was just seriously in denial, or that Gerald actually used a Working to seduce him. The choice of which one you go with is yours, dear reader: I leave that part to you.

A.N.3: I swear, despite the nature of the song I chose, I didn't originally expect it to come out this dark. It kind of took on a life of its own, and... well, it took a turn for the worse, obviously.


I've been carrying this, like my heart's in a fist

And its grip is tightening

It hurt. It was excruciating, hearing those words from those pale, perfect lips, seeing the flawless lie in silver eyes. He wanted to believe, he wanted it so badly - but he could not. It wasn't simply unlikely: it was utter impossibility.


A single word, breaking the fragile veil of silence that had fallen over them. Ice grey eyes narrowed, cold as winter's bite and just as sharp, subtle and lethal. A soft voice, like the sigh of a dying breath.

"You doubt me?"

Fresh pain, twisting in his soul. How could he ask for trust, knowing the price it would carry? "You're asking the impossible, Tarrant. You're asking me to believe that you, the Hunter, have feelings for me?"

"Have I ever lied to you?"

Ah, there was the crux of it. How could he know if the adept had lied to him? No answer for that: he changed his approach, dodging the question he couldn't address.

"Even if it's true, you claim that you loved your wife too. You don't exactly have a good track record with caring about people, Hunter."

A hiss of fury, like an angered cobra. Tarrant stepped forward, his eyes burning cold as the fae lashed around him, streams of energy twisting and writhing to the rhythm of his wrath. "Don't play games with me, Vryce. I killed my wife because the situation demanded it, and my welfare came above hers. Do not force me to make such a choice with you."

"You won't get the chance."

The lantern whispers then flickers out

I wait in the wind, and the storm is rising

Thunder growled low in the distance as the wind picked up, raking cold fingers over Damien's skin. A clump of dead, dry weeds rattled past him down the deserted cobblestones: Jaggonath's main avenue was empty, the citizens fled to shelter from the rising tempest. He should have been home too, safe and warm with his fiancée in the shelter of their small house in the city's suburbs, but the Patriarch had taken him aside to question him yet again about his experiences in the Forest. A plan was in the works to launch an assault on the woodland stronghold, spurred by the righteous anger the Patriarch felt at the revelation of the Hunter's true identity: Damien would do nothing to hinder it, but he wanted no part of this war.

Whenever he thought of the Hunter, the anger he should have felt was subsumed by the memory of mercury eyes and sungold hair, and an impossible pledge confided in the dead of night.

Heart that pounds the dreamer's night,

The monsters of love's afterlife

The brazen hills of desperate heights of

How not where to bring your glance

Sideways soft in silent hands

Though Damien should have been content to rebuild his fractured life and leave his past in the dust where it belonged, he was plagued by dark memories that refused to die. The daylight kept them at bay, concealed beneath a veneer of normalcy and routine, but at night they seemed to gain new life from the shadows around him. He would wake trembling and drenched in cold sweat, shuddering from a recollection of pale eyes and slender hands, of a grace as inhuman as it was seductive.

Memories of stolen glances, the flicker of hidden emotion in bright quicksilver eyes. A bond sealed in terror and blood, the sight of pale lips pressed to his skin and the feel of a cold, sinuous tongue lapping at his wounded flesh. The shade of Gerald Tarrant haunted him, the undead adept's chill permeating his flesh and soul during the night hours until he could barely fight down his scream of helpless fear.

This the monster that claimed to care for him. To want him.

You belong to me

You belong to me

Though you let me go

You'll always belong to me

Three years had passed since the Master of Lema's defeat. Damien had returned to his life as though nothing had changed, mended his fences with Ciani and eventually proposed. The loremaster had accepted happily, and everything seemed to be going perfectly now: he was well on the way to having the loving wife and white picket fence, and if Ciani was hinting at what he thought she was there might soon be children in the picture as well.

So why, in the name of all that was holy, was he still dreaming of Tarrant?

Now you're older, you're still unchanged

And I through the years just a ruined memory

The patient slighted character

Such a tiny voice now my thunder's menacing

He had never thought that he would see the adept again. So when he turned around one day when he and Ciani were at a pleasant restaurant for dinner, and caught sight of a familiar figure through the crowd, his heart nearly stopped.

Tarrant was half-concealed by shadows where he stood across the square, but despite the cloaking darkness and the distance there was no mistaking that willowy figure and Core-golden hair. Damien made the mistake of meeting those grey eyes, and he was lost, drowning in an ocean of cold silver. A hard, ruthless smile curved over Tarrant's pale lips, sharp and deadly as a knife, then his mouth moved, shaping soundless words.

We meet again, my love.

Then he was gone, vanished like a wraith into the night, and Ciani was asking Damien in alarm what was wrong, what had turned him so pale. When Damien told her what he'd seen, she looked at him in open fear, but also in confusion. She didn't understand why Tarrant would have come to torment them - what had they done that might have angered him?

She didn't know. Damien had never told her about that night in the rakhlands. The night that, while she was dancing in celebration with the rakh, he was held spellbound by the Hunter's dark charms.

My dreams wrap tightly around your neck,

The boney snaps of breaking wings,

Lotus flowers, careful step,

Creeping ivy's patient web

Creeps the ivy higher still

That was when the dreams started again, the nightmares that left Damien struggling for breath in the oppressive warmth of the bed he shared with Ciani, his stomach curdling in revulsion but his heart racing with passion. He knew that if Ciani learned of the battle he was fighting with his own dark longings, the knowledge would tear her apart, so he kept his own counsel and concealed his turmoil from her - and she lashed out at him in hurt and anger, upset because she felt that he was pulling away.

And through it all the Hunter's voice plagued him, whispering darkly in his dreams until fear turned through acceptance into desire.

You will be mine, Damien Vryce.

You belong to me

You belong to me

Though you let me go

You'll always belong to me

"You can't run forever."

He froze, paralyzed. The Core had barely set, he was making his way home from the Cathedral after a long day's work: enough time had past that he had begun to wonder if he'd imagined that night, but there was no mistaking the voice that had just come from thin air behind him.

A whisper of ice ghosted against the back of his neck, and Damien tried to calm the racing of his heart as he said hoarsely, "I'm not scared of you."

Cold lips grazed his flesh, drawing a shudder from his unwilling frame as the voice breathed against skin, "Denial won't save you, Vryce. I can taste your fear... and how sweet it is."

Damien's chest tightened, terror welling up in his throat, choking off his breath. Terror born not only from the Hunter's dark Workings, but by the frightful realization burrowing into his heart with each moment that passed.

Enough to choke, too much to stifle

Deep down, there was some part of him that did want this.

Walking past my house is futile

"Just leave me alone." Desperate, echoing with futility, a plea not meant to be heeded.

"Never." Cold, crisp, inevitable as eternity.

I will ring the temple bell

I pull you down my winding wilderness -

Cold hands locked around his arms, turning him to face his demon: cold lips sought his own, hungry and demanding, and Damien was helpless to resist. Something dark and unholy bound his will, rooted him in place under Tarrant's icy touch - but it was something else entirely that caused him to reach out in return, reach out and draw the Darkest Prince of Hell into his embrace.

The Yurei at the river bank

Running then falling then drowning -

The Hunter's dark power wrapped around him and dragged him down into the shadows, yet it didn't feel like being bound. It felt like finally being set free. The shackles of duty and obligation, morality and responsibility, crumbled and snapped under the strength of Tarrant's power.

Somewhere deep inside, something bright and hopeful died a last, vicious, agonized death. Its final cry went unheeded in a soul chained all about by shadows.

Damien let go of his last anchor to the light, and let the black waters close over his head.

No longer silent as the grave

Until you've been properly frightened

Like paying respects or a debt you always owe

Ciani had never begged in her life, too proud and too confident in her own power. She would beg this night, though - faced with their worst fear come to life, even the strongest soul would plead for mercy.

"Please." A bare whisper, escaping through cracked and bleeding lips, from a throat seared raw by screams of terror.

A tithe perhaps

"He is mine." Coldness, cruel and sharp. Arrogance, haughty and indifferent. Anger, vindictive and ruthless. Triumph, dark and heady.

The coldfire flared brightly, drawing warmth from the air, consuming the last shreds of hope.

The sword fell, severing the anguished scream.

You belong to me

You belong to me

Let the waters rise, let the fires burn

Flames ravaged the ruins of Sheva, hungry tongues dancing on splintered wood and shattered rock like the cold wind's kiss on ruined flesh and bared bone. The howls of wolves courted the oncoming darkness as night fell slowly, creeping over the sooty glow of the burning city. The price of defiance came high for those who dared the wrath of the Prince of Jahanna.

Voices sobbed in the eager darkness, their forlorn whispers carried on the wind. Will no one save us? Will no one lift this curse?

But the only one who might have challenged the Forest's rule was long fallen into shadows himself.

You belong to me

Let the gale winds blow, let the mountains fall

The warriors of the Church flung themselves against the gates of the Hunter's Keep with the desperation of those who know their lives are forfeit, but their sacrifice was in vain. Their plans were known long before they set foot within the Forest's shade, and the Lord of the Forest was waiting for them with wolf and shade and hungry fae. Before they died, however, they saw the face of the man who stood at the Hunter's side - and they died with venom upon their lips, cursing one of their own who had left them to their fate.

You belong to me

Running then falling then drowning -

The years turned by, and the shadow of the Hunter lay across the land like a shroud. The cycles of power wheeled by, and the Church thrived as the sole light burning in the darkness, and sometimes it rose up and cast back the shadows for a time. Always, though, it would falter and fail, and the night would come again - and at the Hunter's side fought a man seemed never to age, a man whose name was legend far and wide across the lands of Erna.

It was whispered at night around the campfires that he had once been a servant of the Church himself, that he had been seduced away from its guiding light and led into the shadows by the Hunter. It was said that at times he still showed mercy, that he would spare a child from the sword or allow a young man to return to his wife and children. Others said that it mattered not, for if the Hunter commanded that child dead, then they were as good as slain, for the man's loyalty had never yet wavered. As decades, then centuries, went past, legends grew to myth and the truth was long forgotten.

Eventually, the only ones who remembered were the man himself - and the dark Prince who ruled the Forest, who had lured him into the darkness.

You belong to me



So, as you can see, that turned out about as dark as they come. Hopefully, though, it's still pretty good - I kind of shocked myself a little, since I didn't start out with the intention to make this dark at all. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that it's been sixteen hours since I last slept. Please review, I would love to have something to read when I wake up twelve hours from now!