Hello! Today, I have the beginning of a short story I absolutely loved writing. It is essentially a story of the interactions between a girl and a god/demon. The girl has a mission to accomplish and the ambition to meet her goals no matter the costs. The demon, on the other hand, just wants human souls. I switch point-of-view back and forth between the two characters as the story develops, analyzing both of their internal monologues as they strike their deal. The full story is separated in acts, so I invite you, dear reader, to delve into the story in Act 1.
The Covenant: Act 1
She is begging to me. She is not the first to beg— tears in her eyes, desperation clawing at her throat— and she is most certainly not the last.
I am sitting in my office, hearing her pleas among the chorus of screams and sighs as I file my red nails into points with my black, glass nail file. I turn my hand, flashing my nails and inspecting them for imperfections. They are symmetrical as usual, perfect. I look into the mirror opposite my desk, staring into the crimson eyes shaded by loose, black curls. I grin at my dashing visage, flashing a dazzling smile marred by the point of my canines.
I look good.
I already know that I am going to answer her pleas, give her something she thinks she wants for something I know I can get. Humans can be so foolish when they’re desperate. But I decide to wait a moment, to let her wallow in her despair for one more glorious second before I pick at the strand of her prayers resonating in my mind and I melt into them, waltzing into the darkness and stepping out into a large, empty field surrounded by dying trees, a girl shivering and clutching at the brittle ground in the center, wind whipping at her dark red waves.
Ana is screaming, her voice going raw as her tears fall on her scratched, torn hands. She sounds desperate, hopeless, heartbroken. She is begging for someone to answer her prayers, to save her even as the sun falls and the moon rises, shining down into her clearing. Ana looks and sounds in need of immediate help, the kind that only the darkest of creatures can provide, the ones that lurk in the shadows and burrow underground. It is a good thing, then, that one chose to answer.
It is a good thing that Ana is an excellent actress.
“Hello Anastasia,” The demon purrs, emerging from the shadow of the tree line.
Ana looks up and sees a god. He is perfect, an amalgam of every feature Ana finds attractive, all dressed up in the finest black suit Ana has ever seen. Ana, however, is not here for vanity or lust. She did not get on her knees over the hardened ground with tears in her eyes only to be seduced by an old god.
Ana takes in the demon, god, whatever he is, from the tips of his curls, to the shine of his grin, to the glint of his painted nails, and instead of whimpering or screaming or shuddering, she wipes her eyes and smirks, matching his seductive, conniving grin.
“Took you long enough to answer.”
Ana sees a flash of confusion pass the demon’s eyes, but he maintains his composure, looking down at her, still on the ground and stating, “You went to great lengths to summon me. I was very busy when you called, just so you know. Now, what is it you want and how much are you willing to pay for it?”
Ana rises from the grimy ground, dusting off her torn, mangled dress and standing with as much regality as she can muster.
“I have a proposition for you.”
“You have a proposition for me? I’m sure you don’t know how this works.”
“Oh, I know exactly how this works. You find me, weeping and desperate clutching for any shred of mercy the darkness deigns to give, and I beg you for something, something I’m willing to sacrifice anything for, even my soul.” Ana steps closer to the demon, circling like a shark ready to snatch her prey. He stays still, his red eyes darkening into umber as they follow the peculiar, purposefully messy girl. “I tell you I want to live forever, or I want to be remembered, or I want to fly away and you write the terms of the deal, terms I do not get to know beforehand. Then, I end up stuck inside a shitty bargain until you sweep in and steal my soul away. You win, I lose, and you go hunting for your next victim. Am I correct?” Ana is inches away from the demon’s face, brow quirked, an arrogant smirk plastered on her face.
The demon stares, dismayed, at Ana. Ana can tell he is amused, sure. He probably thinks she has a chip on her shoulder, too smart and cocky for her own good, but Ana can see in the tilt of his chin and the lift of his nose that he still sees her as an inferior, weak, breakable human.
“You think yourself clever,” He laughs. “I’m afraid you don’t know what you are dealing with.”
A wave of darkness and despair roll over Ana as the demon mutates into his true form, expanding into a great and terrible evil that devoured everything in sight. He was a void of dread and emptiness and heartbreak, all laced with the bitter taste of vindictiveness. The darkness blasts out, the only light within the unspeakable horror that was the demon’s face. He is not beautiful. He is not gleeful. He is simply the natural force of all things grotesque and monstrous.
Ana looks into his void and laughs a sharp, resonating laugh. Then, without warning, she ignites into a burst of bright, white light.
I realize a moment too late that I am in way over my head.
The girl’s light eats away at me, ripping out chunks of my own aura as the ground rumbles beneath me. For a moment, I think she is some goddess, here to trick me and lure me into her web, here to kill me for really no reason at all. It would not be the first time one of them had tried. Then, my eyes adjust to the piercing light, only barely, but enough to see that the girl is still there, in the center of her force, eyes glowing white and hair floating around her face. The forest moves behind her, bending and warping into a new reality, her new reality. She is not a goddess, but she cannot be human either.
We are in the magical equivalent of an arm-wrestling match now, force against force testing which of us is stronger, but my aura shrinks around me and my once strong legs begin to weaken, as roots I did not notice begin clinging to my feet and threaten to pull me into the dying ground, I have no choice to surrender, pulling my shade back into me as I return to the comfortable host of my favorite costume.
I fall to my knees as the light dims back to normal, revealing the girl hiding within. She looks as she did before, calm, arrogant, and inconceivably infuriating. Only now, she is not some lowly human, but an unknown force of nature.
“Who are you?” I ask, panting.
“My name is Anastasia Byrne, but you can call me Ana,” Ana smiled, bowing deeply with a flourish. “Though I imagine what you were really asking was what I am, and the simple answer to that is that it does not matter. All that really matters is that I am neither goddess nor human, neither immortal or mortal, neither good nor evil. I am simply a girl asking for a favor that will mutually benefit both of us.”
“And what is this favor?” I ask, dusting the dirt from my suit. I honestly don’t know what to think of this dramatic, powerful girl, only that she is so far out of my pay grade that I can’t think of a single thing to do.
“My name is not—”
“It is now. Names are a powerful thing, so I am letting you keep the dignity of yours. Call it a small mercy, one of few. Instead of your true name, I will be calling you Victor. Now, will you let me speak uninterrupted?”
“I want to steal and use The Codex of Unusual and Supernatural Beings, and I want your help to do it.”
“The Codex? That thing is protected by gods know what! Hells, not even that, because I’m a god and I don’t even know what’s protecting it.”
“Which is why I want to contract you to find out. I’m powerful, sure. I know that. You surely know that. But my power comes with flare. It is flamboyant by nature. You on the other hand,” Ana draws close, whispering in my ear. “Have a power that lurks in the shadows. The world moves for you. You can find whatever you want.”
I turn to Ana, my face only an inch away from hers. I smile, regaining a semblance of control. “And what will you pay me for my services? You know I only deal in one type of currency.”
“I am not giving you my soul.” Ana’s voice slices through the air, echoing through the woods even though she was whispering.
“Then I’m sorry darling, but there’s no deal,” I step back from Ana, ready to melt into the shadows once more. I was clearly on the verge of biting off far more than I was ever supposed to chew. I expect Ana to beg, call me back, scream for me to help her until her voice goes raw, but she does none of those things. She is silent for three seconds, and then, she laughs a piercing, manic laugh. I stand speechless, my back to Ana as she laughs and laughs until she runs out of breath.
“Oh, you think you can say no. That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day. Oh, my goodness!”
I am silent, standing stock-still, waiting for the peculiar girl to keep going.
“You have two options, Victor darling. You refuse me and I kill you, or you take the deal, work for me, and we pull the world into sweet chaos. Can you imagine all those souls, afraid, desperate, ripe for the picking? You will let me keep my soul and you will receive thousands.”
Thousands. My mouth waters at the thought. I turn back to Ana only to realize that my feet are unsticking from the ground. I didn’t even notice that they were stuck. “Thousands of souls are a hefty price. How do I know you will be able to pay?”
“Because if I can’t, I’m dragging you down with me.”
Ana is right in front of me, confidence hardening in her eyes. There isn’t a speck of fear in this girl. Not in the tilt of her chin or the set of her hips. She knew she had me in the palm of her hand, and I am slowly realizing how stuck I truly am. In one conversation, this girl managed to wrap me in the vines of her plan and until there is no escape other than to give in.
“So, do we have a deal?” Ana stretches out her hand, caked in dirt yet regal in its posture.
I look at the hand and look at her arrogant smirk, and with the realization that I am thoroughly and irrevocably fucked, I take her hand and the world bursts into a clash of light and darkness as our two magical souls strike a divine covenant.