“I summon thee Satan. Reveal yourself to me. Come to me in your physical form. I summon thee Satan. Reveal yourself to me. Come to me in your physical form.” I whispered the words over and over into the air. Into the world beyond. My words only interrupted to sniff back the blood crusting under my nose. My jaw and teeth are aching and my body is trembling with restraint. I’m needed in the field. I need to go to the field. But I need to do this first.
I dared to open an eye, now half swollen shut and peaked at the sun starting to set in the distance. I don’t know how long I have been at this but it has been too long. Too, too long. I need to get back to my friends. To that battle that surly has only grown worse since I left.
“Reveal yourself to me, you coward!” I hollered across the room. "Come on!” I hopped down from the barstool I had perched myself on. “You’ve shown yourself to me before. What are you waiting for?” Panic and anger clawed at me turning into blind rage as I grabbed the leg of the barstool and flung it into the wall across from me. It landed with a thud and drywall dusted down from the wall, looking like a snowfall I would never see again. I fell to my hands and knees panting as I spit blood on the floor. I don’t know how I’ve bled so much and stayed alive. I wanted to scream, the heat in my chest begged me to scream but my energy was spent and this had been my last hope. I let the tears stream down my cheeks and I gasped for air.
“Well, well, well…” I froze, the voice coming from behind me, “Eden Fairbanks.” I made to snap my head over my shoulder, not believing he was really here but he was on me before I could move. Crouching in front of me more animal than human he grabbed my chin with his ice cold fingers and jerked my chin to look up at him. “Wonderful to see you again, darling. Although, if my memory is correct, you swore to me the last time, would be the last time. Did you not?” His dark eyes swam with amusement and I looked into the pale face that I had become more acquainted with throughout my life than anyone hopes to be. His finger wiped at the tears on my cheek, leaving a smear of dirt on his finger.
“You came.” I breathed.
“You called.” He released my chin with a slight push causing me to hiss. He stretched to his full height and I looked up at him through my eyelashes. He sucked his teeth while examining his fingernails, like he was bored which only increased my annoyance.
“I didn’t think you would come again.” My voice was hoarse from all the screaming.
“I didn’t think you would call again.” He didn’t bother to look down at me as he spoke. “We can go around in this circle all day darling or you can tell me what you want.”
I scrambled up to my feet, every muscle and bone ready to crumble. I attempted to straighten out my shirt and dust my hands over my pants. I need to look him in the eye while we speak. He’s never liked a coward.
“I need help.” I said to his side. “We’re dying. We’re all going to die. I- I- can’t hold them any longer.”
He whipped around to face me, a cloud of darkness swirling with him. The sun shone in a gold stream through the window and straight into his eyes that seemed to devour it. I blinked and blinked again. I’ll never get used to that.
“You know you could have cleaned yourself up before you called me. You’ve seen better days darling.”
“I’m about to see no more days.” I snapped, “unless you help me I will be dead the moment I step back on that battlefield.” I pointed out the window. His face seemed to come closer to mine and he breathed in my breath.
He clicked his tongue like I was a naughty child, “How did it go so horribly wrong darling? You had such a wonderful handle on it. You’re quite the fighter.”
“You’ve been watching me?” I shouted, outrage taking over common sense. “You’ve been watching me walk face first into death and you haven’t bothered to help me?!”
“You know very well, I can’t help you unless you ask. If you ask for help, then I can decide if I want to help you or not.”
“So, will you?”
“Will I, what?”
“Help me? Help us?” I gestured again to my friends on the battlefield. “Please. We- I failed. I’m failing and there’s nothing else I can do.”
“The demon queen.” He turned away from me, walking in a lazy circle. “That’s what they call you isn’t it?” He stopped and seemed to inhale the death in the air. “I have to say, it suits you quite well. Demon queen, demon queen, demon queen.” he tasted the words in his mouth, muttering to himself.
“We don’t have ti-”
“You will have whatever time I give you.” My mouth clicked shut. “You deny the name of demon queen yet you have made several deals with the king of them and it makes me wonder if you have not enjoyed our encounters the same way I have.” He took in a deep breath through his nose again. “I’ve watched this battle closely and there could be-” He spun to face me, “So many interesting outcomes.” In less than a breath he was on me again. His fingers like bones as they picked up my braid. He breathed in deep through his nose, bringing my braid to his nose and running his face over it. “There it is.” He sighed.
“What?” it only came out as a whisper.
“Your scent. It’s so beautiful.” He sniffed again and I resisted the urge to back away from his pawing. “The scent of death coats you.” He hissed. “But here-” He lifted my hair, “Here is where I can smell you. You’re scent that is purely you. Your own blood and bones, your life within you.” He seemed to be talking more to himself than to me so I kept my mouth shut.
He backed away from me, assessing me with those light devouring eyes. He turned his back to me again. I felt every inch of his gaze slipping over me as he began to circle me. I almost begged him again, begged him to help me. We are running out of time. We might be out of time already.
“So impatient” He drawled as if he could hear my thoughts. “Tell me, one more thing, darling, why do you deny the name of the Demon Queen?”
“I have never hidden the fact that I have made several deals with you. They can refer to me as whatever they wish to. I only wish to save them. Save our city.”
“Interesting.” It wasn’t interesting to him at all. “I’ll help you.”
“You will?” I whipped my head around to look at him. “You’ll really help me?”
“I may do many things but I don’t lie, darling.”
“What do you want in return?”
“Don’t toy with me. You don’t hand out favors.” I wiped my face on my sleeve only to have blood crust and fall to the ground. He watched it and his lips curled.
“Don’t act like you know what I do and don’t do. I have been known to grant favors to a few of my favorite people.”
“Please just tell me what it will cost me.”
He stopped circling me and stood directly in front of me. Assessing me again.
“What would you give?”
“My- my life.” I stuttered out. I came here ready to gamble my life. It’s the only thing left I have to give him. “When I defeat this army and win this war for my friends you can take my life. I’ve already promised you my soul. You know very well where it’s going.” I took a shaky breath, “If you help me win this battle I will let you take my life and my soul will belong to you. Forever.”
He didn’t move, not even in the slightest. I wouldn’t dip my chin or break my gaze from his. I need to be strong now.
A smile spread across his face. A viscous slash of red lips and white teeth. He moved again before I could see him do it. He stood so close to me, my chest was pressed to his stomach. There was no warmth from his body , it felt like leaning against a brick wall.
“Beautiful, Beautiful fool.” He taunted, grabbing my chin with his fingers again and forcing my gaze to his. He sniffed, slow and deep and I knew he was smelling me again. A shiver went down my spine and I tried to hide it baby the way he smiled again, he knew. He grabbed my hand with his own, his grip too tight and too strong, causing my hand to ache.
“Use this, beautiful girl. Use this and it will always strike true. You will go out there and finish this fight.” The feeling of cold metal appeared between our fingers. I moved my head to look at what we were holding but he jerked my gaze back to him.
“Use this, darling and when you are done-” He leaned in, smelling my hair again. “Live.”
I blinked. “What do you mean?”
“Live.” He growled again. “I don’t want your life. Not before it’s time. Win. For everything you are for everything you love and when it’s your time, you will come down to me.”
“But- but-” I stuttered, not sure what to do about the fact that he’s letting me live.
“You would be wise to do as I say, Eden and I will be with you every step of the way. Every swing of this weapon and every step after. You will feel me.” He removed his hand from my chin and pressed it to my chest. A low moan rumbled from the back of his throat and he closed his eyes. “Your heart beats quickly, darling.” He opened his eyes and caught my gaze. He didn’t need to hold my face in place to have his attention this time. “You are one of my favorites.” He whispered. “And what you will give me, demon queen, is permission to come see you, whenever I feel so inclined.”
“You-you want to.. See me?”
“Yes. Whenever. I Feel. Like. It.” He moved behind me so his chest pressed into my back and his cold lips grazed my ear. “Do we have a deal?”
“Yes.” I whispered. “Yes, we have a deal.”
“Perfect.” He inhaled me again. “I’ll be seeing you soon darling. Go win this battle. Do not disappoint me. I’ll be watching.” The room fell silent. My whole body vibrates with anxiety, power. I don’t know. I looked down in my hand to see a long black metal sword. One that seemed to emanate a blackness that even the night sky wouldn’t be able to compete with. I sucked in a breath, straightened my clothes and walked back onto the battle fields.
Two months later:
“I was expecting you sooner.” I taunted from the bench in my bedroom. I didn’t see him appear as much as I felt him. His presence has become a constant in my life and I’m not sure I mind anymore.
“I had some business to attend to.”
“More important business than me?” I asked, flashing my eyes at him through the mirror. He was on me in a second. He grabbed my hair brush off my table and ran his fingers through my hair then the brush , alternating strokes. I closed my eyes, enjoying the feeling.
“How wonderful.” He murmured to himself, smelling my hair as he brushed. I guess this is part of the deal. Part of what I give to save our people. “My demon queen.” he growled in my ear and for once, the name made me smile.