Prophecy of the Lady Shade

“Something wicked this way comes…” said the creaky voice from the woman on the side of the road. Old and withered, her skin was hanging off her bones as loose as the cloak she had wrapped around her. Her eyes trained on the two walking down the street. In particular the taller figure, dressed in dark brown with dark ebony hair.

“So it does, woman.” hissed the ebony haired figure in a female’s voice. A flash of pearly white teeth in a devious smirk. Beside her, a slight shorter man, solid in build but older with a graying beard. He coughed softly and clucked his tongue to deviate her attention.

“Watch your temper, Caoilainn…” he warned with a form tone.

Caoilainn rolled her eyes, paying no heed. “There is naught wrong with my temper.”

The beggar woman suddenly began laughing. A high pitched, choked sort of sound in between her wheezing. “Beware thyne demon soul, o’ Lady of Shade! For when the golden voice speaks, you will destroy that which shines!”

There went her temper. Snarling as she pulled a knife from her belt, it was only the heavy hand of her companion grabbing on to the back of her neck that kept her still. “Stay your hand. Steel should not be wasted on the rambles of beggars.”

Casting the old beggar woman a final glare, the two continued on their way…


Buried Alive

Mist rolled over frost covered grass, lending the quiet graveyard a picturesque and creepy atmosphere that seemed all to befitting for the work she was up to. The ground crunched under her feet as she stepped over tombstones and unmarked graves. Winter left the sky clear, with a perfect view of twinkling stars over head. But the moon was hidden behind Earth’s shadow, giving no illumination for her to see by. There was only the faint outline of trees and towering monuments to the deceased.

“Well, this was a waste of time…” Caroline muttered to herself. Her breath coming out in a visible puff with the cool air. A sudden sound of footsteps behind her had her spinning around, holding out a hand ready to cast a spell.

“I wouldn’t call it a waste of time.” Several torches lit up all at once in a wide circle from where they were standing. Before her now was a man, hardly even recognizable. Half of his body was scarred deep with old burn wounds, yet he wore a satisfied smile.

Nerenc. Had it been a hundred years since she vanquished him..? “You may be right. It seems I need to finish something.” Throwing out a hand and casting a spell, half the torches went out as a sudden gust of wind tore through the graveyard. Her coal black ribbons were in her hands, and cracking like a long whip in Nerenc’s direction. He jumped to the side, dashing behind stones and monuments for cover. Circling around her and always staying just out of reach.

Growling to herself, another crack of wind had the rest of the torches going out. The graveyard cast in darkness once again, she used this to jump up in the air, over one of the stones and land neatly in his way. Before he dodged her again, her ribbons wrapped right around his neck and jerked him back. She slung him hard, throwing him several feet away and in to the side of a mausoleum wall.

Her footsteps were soft as she crossed the grass. A curious raise of her eyebrow when Nerenc raised himself up, only casting her a wide grin. “Perfect, Caiolainn.” Before she realized what had happened something was drawn from his pocket. BANG BANG BANG. It felt like fire ripping through her skin. Paralyzing her with the unexpected pain. Hissing through her teeth she took two stumbling steps forward. By now Nerenc was back to his feet and approaching. The gun that was steaming in his hands disappeared, only to be replaced with a knife. Caroline was trying to draw up a spell, a transport spell, but nothing seemed to be coming. Her knees were giving out from under her.

Nerenc caught her around the waist, smirking wide right before the knife of black onyx was shoved roughly in to her side. Blood oozing down from the stone to cover his hand. Not letting her crumble to the ground just yet, he dragged her to the side for several paces. He leaned and whispered in her ear. “What was it that you said to me…? ‘You’ll burn before you bury me.’ I’ve burned. Now it’s your turn…” With a violent shove, Caroline fell backwards, landing a good seven feet below. A fresh grave with a coffin waiting. The lid slammed down over her, followed by the hushed sounds of dirt and rock being tossed on it.

Caroline struggled to move. Cast magic. Anything. In a short jerked motion she pulled the knife out of the side. It falling next to her with a clunk when it slipped from her hand. Blood was draining away in a pool under her. Another attempt at a transport spell failed. The bullets lodged in her had some sort of enchantment..! With a choked cry Caroline pressed her hands against the metal lid, trying to push, hit, claw. The more she fought to move it, the weaker she become. Fear started grow… real genuine fear. She was going to die like this. Never had she any value of her life and here she lay bleeding to death and all she could think of was Dark tearing up Evangeline’s castle when she didn’t come home. Ironic that she would realize she didn’t want to die when it was too late.


The Burning

“And I thought you wouldn’t be coming, oh Raven Shade.” The demon chuckled as a body dropped from his hands. Blood dripped from his finger tips and from his mouth. There were three others standing in various places, each covered with the blood and gore of the man they had just slaughtered for an evening supper.

“Your timing is truly impeccable.” Caroline hissed through her teeth. Without wasting time on witty banter her ribbons were summoned in one hand and a bolt spell in the other. She let both fly, sending the group of demons scattered in every direction.

Though they were cackling with amusement, they knew to keep a fair distance between themselves and her. Lady Shade, Raven Shade, Midnight Warrior amongst many other names preceded the woman’s reputation. Coming across her wasn’t their intention, but now that they had, she would need to be removed if they wanted free feeding over the juicy humans!

Their trouble, was that even between the four of them they could not land a spell. Lightning deflected, casting diffused. Frustration took one of them and recklessly he had pulled out a sword to charge, only to be slashed down without even getting to take a swing.

The other three ran. She followed.

They were around the corner of a townhome and in to the village street when the leader made a sudden stop. He turned, a wild cheeky sort of grin on his face as he held a hand in to the air. The big town clock was just starting to chime 7’oclock.

“I’m late for dinner.” Caroline shouted at them, poising her hands as the demon summoned up his spell. Dark and shadowy, wrapped with twirling purple and burning red, it looked much like a meteor forming in the sky. But instead of hurling it at her, he was chucking it down the street behind him aimed for several of the home buildings at the end of the street. She cursed under her breath. Having to move fast, she summoned her ribbons. Sending the tendrils out with lightning speed to wrap about the churning rocked. She caught it before it smashed in to the buildings and jerked it back. It hurtling and rolling towards the Three and crashing in to the ground where they had formerly been standing.

By now she was annoyed and unamused. While they were still chuckling about their flashy toy, she was flinging it up in to the air. A new spell. From the inside out it started to burn and by the time they finally notice it burst. Shards flinging in several directions. The largest hitting their marks so perfectly on target, it should have been impossible! The Three all dropped dead, churning to ashes along with the remains of their spell.

“Oh my God…”

Caroline froze. Turning slowly to stare in surprise over her shoulder at the startled voice. Two of the women that live in the town were there, staring in disbelief. Now just the two. People peering from windows, standing on the sidewalks. Surprised and horrified. People she didn’t see before. …it seemed one of the demon’s spells had managed to take effect after all. Somehow she did not realize they led her to a public street. The people that had knew her for the past year as Caroline DuPaul, wife of their favorite town speaker…

“Gail, they were demons.” she said quickly, trying to explain.

“Y-you killed them. Just like that.. Oh god… God, y-you’re a witch..!”

“I am not a witch.”

A woman’s scream confessed that the demon’s kill had just been found. Several more townspeople had appeared, most looking frighted, but even more having serious stoic expressions. Someone had roused her husband and she was relieved for only a split second. Until she saw his face.

“What are you..? What have you done..?”

“She’s a witch! A WITCH!”

“A murderer!”

Things were going downhill fast. People were panicking. But Caroline only looked to Louis, taking a step closer to him just for him to back away. “Louis, please, let me explain. They were demons and going to hurt people. I’m not a witch, but I’m not normal. I’m- ”

“A monster.” he responded. Cutting her short with one simple cold word. “I married a monster. You bewitched me.”

“Louis, I love you, just listen to me please! I was trying to protect you!” A couple of the townsmen grabbed her by the arms, dragging her off to the center of town. Caroline could have fought them. Slung them away as if they had weighed nothing. But if she did wouldn’t it confirm their fears? Surely Louis would get over the initial shock and want to speak to her. To let her explain.

But a stake was erected in the town square, complete with wood for a pyre. Caroline was tied to the stake, surrounded by most of the people in the village. Screaming witch, demon, monster. She couldn’t find Louis and the moment she did, her heart sank. He had the torch and wordlessly approached. No final words, no questions asked. Just a hard scowl on his charming face before he tossed the torch on to the pyre.

Everything went up in flames quickly. Black smoke filling the sky. Still she was hoping. He’d stop it. He would save his wife. He loved her? No screaming for the burning to stop ever came. Caroline could feel the fire beginning to singe her clothes, and before much longer it would be too late. She wasn’t going to die here, even if it was deserved.

A casted spell of glamor and then a transport spell. Caroline dropped to her feet outside of the town. She could see the glow of the flames at the center. All the villagers would see was a spell of her burning alive. They would never know she had escaped. She could go back if she wanted. But she wouldn’t. Not to fetch her things, not to speak to Louis… He had made the choice and he had wanted to see her die.

So Caroline turned her back and walked away. Caroline DuPaul was dead tonight.


Malsuada’s Revenge

“Like hell I’m staying here with HIM!”

Caroline was finishing up a cup a tea while Dark was trying to make it loudly clear that he didn’t intend to spend the evening with Alistair. Not that she blamed him. With Lily Grey and Conrad gone to Montana instead of being around to get him riled up, staying behind with Alistair must have been boring indeed. With that same restrained patience she usually used with him, Caroline had the porcelain cup vanish as she frowned at Dark.

“We’ve discussed this many times before. You cannot always come with me. I’m sure a few hours with Alistair will not harm you.”

“That’s what you think.” Dark muttered under his breath.

Caroline pretended not to hear, casting a sideways grin as she pulled out the small needle from her pocket. “Behave.” Before he could shout more protests at her she vanished.

– – –

Caroline landed neatly on her feet, standing in knee high grass looking towards a large house. Old and abandoned, it didn’t seem like anyone had been living there for a very long time. She frowned. A contact had said there was a family recently living here having issues with a particularly nasty haunting. Alas, maybe her contact was thinking “recently” in terms of demon years instead of humans.

With a wary silence, Caroline approached the house. Stepping over the shifted path stones and watching her step as she climbed on to the porch. The aura of the place was eerie. Not in the sense that she felt an odd presence, but nearly the opposite. Everything here felt dead. Even the air was stale and still.

Inside the home pieces of abandoned furniture was scattered across the floor. Broken pieces of an old life. There were even pictures on the walls, faded and indescribable. As she wandered in to the kitchen a stew pot and a kettle sat on the stove. What used to be in them was long gone. There was definitely a family here at one time. One that vanished in the middle a cooking dinner without a person in the world seeming to notice they were gone.

A giggle made her pause. A very familiar giggle.

“Here she comes. Oh Raven Warrior on thine righteous quest. To save a soul for every one she so brutally slaughtered…”

“Malsuada.” The sound of that woman’s voice made her skin crawl. Not from fear of her but from what the devil would dare show her face for. Caroline had been so sure Gabriel had killed her. Even Malsuada could not be so foolish as to tempt fate a second time? “You walk a dangerous line, Malsuada. To be on the mortal world when the Infamous Himself wants to end you.”

Though Malsuada did not appear, her laughter carried through the empty kitchen. “Hahaa! Are you going to use him as a shield again Caoilainn? Half a century you spent slaying demon and beast in the name of penance and here I give you a chance to face your demon, and you wish to summon a knight to save you. You poor little coward…”

Caroline flashed her teeth in a dangerous smile. “Don’t mistake wisdom for cowardice, devil. You finally took the wrong soul and I intend to make sure you get the full benefit of it.”

“That is where you are wrong, Caoilainn.” A shimmer near the corner and Malsuada appeared. A fingernail file in one hand as she looked completely unconcerned with the conversation. “The Infamous One has his weakness and right this very moment it’s being exploited. Without a friend in the world to help him.”

It was enough for Caroline to understand the tone in the devil’s voice and to know that she wasn’t kidding. Pulling out her needle again to cast her transportation spell, she found herself surprised when nothing happened. Malsuda’s unconcerned expression slowly crawled in to a wide self satisfied smirk. “No one. To help him. Not those humans, not that little princess brat, nor his handsome clone child thing. And especially not you.”

Not yet. Caroline sprang forward as if she were going to tackle the woman, but shifted on her heels to dart out the back door. The house had some sort of ward over it, but she could run far enough to get outside of them. Malsuada’s cackling followed her out in the yard along with the odd feeling of a spell being shot outwards. The ground underneath her feet rumbled as bony hands shot up from the dirt in her path and started shuffling towards her. To the side there were more and behind her more still. A strange cross between demon and human, there were nearly a hundred of them!

Caroline summoned her axe. Glimmering silver, there was no hesitation of movement as she swung. Metal met bone as a head went flying. Another swing took an arm. Another lodging in to a chest. From her pockets she pulled out her ribbons, letting the streams fly and wrap around bodies to jerk them aside or fling them aside. There was never any blood as she slashed her way through them, trying to get farther from the house. Only grinding of bones and the hiss of dust and ash flying through the air. At first she was doing well, chopping them down before they drew near her. But the longer it took, the more she realized they were rising again. Claws grabbed at her clothes, ripping through to skin. Caroline banished the ribbons, pulling one of her marbles from her pocket with a crack… finding that it too had no effect. Her magic was getting neutralized!

A panicked growl escaped her as she shoved through several of the demons to make a mad dash back towards the house! She collapsed through the door using a foot to slam it shut behind her. Outside the demons were shuffling after her, now clawing at wood of the house. Caroline drew herself up to her feet trying to catch her breath. Inside, the color of the place had shifted. Everything looked darker. Draped in shadows. As she walked to cross the room they shifted, moving across the ceiling and walls and dripping downwards to follow. Just like outside she was surrounded by it as it drew closer. Griping at her feet and inching upwards as it ate away the light of the room.

‘Is hopelessss. Trapped heeeeerrreeee. There is no escaaaaape. Only deaaaaaath. Despaaaaair.’

Caroline could not move. The voice was eating away at her. Pulling at her mind, burning her thoughts. The floor shifted out from under her with the sound of wood planks shattering. The burning sensation was replaced with ice cold as she hit water. Whatever it was over her had pushed her down until her back hit solid ground. She couldn’t breath! This couldn’t be the end.

Willing herself to move, her hand snuck in to her pocket. Her fingers wrapped around the marbles in her pocket. All of them. Squeezing her hand she cracked them, each one to let loose the reserved power and with it she willed whatever strength she had in her to cast her transport spell.


The ceiling above one very annoyed Dark and a smug Alistair opened up. A ton of water, red water, poured down with large stone bricks dropping around them and globs of dirt and sand. Finally Caroline dropped as well. Clothes torn and coughing up water with blood with a body covered in cuts and burns, she was trying to push herself off the floor.

…and she hadn’t arrived there alone.


Soul For a Soul

“You tricked me!”

There were very few moments that Evangeline would actually look angry. Now was one of those, but Caroline was hard pressed to take it seriously. Anger or not, Evangeline always had that gentle softness to her face despite her current attempts at swinging a cane at Caroline’s head.

Caroline ducked, but didn’t waver. “I said I wanted to discuss something with you, I didn’t mention anything about Dark.”

Evangeline huffed, crossing her arms as she turned away to go marching down the path. When one invites you out to the park to talk about an important lesson, usually it’s about your student. …not Gabriel! “Please don’t bring this up again. It’s not anything to be concerned about.”

“You have a voice, Evangeline. Had you any sense you would chain the man down and make him listen. He has no right to treat you this way. Demand him to stay.” It was clear to Caroline that Gabriel loved Evangeline. But what she could not understand was how insistent he was to stay away from her, when he knew how much it hurt her. There was protecting loved ones and then there was being just plain stupid.

Evangeline just shook her head. “I asked him to stay. Insisted. But he chooses not to. I can’t make him if he doesn’t want to.”

“My lady, he lo-” Caroline paused mid-sentence, just as a flashy PLOOF of smoke erupted nearby. It wafted away with a quick wave of the intruder’s arm. A incredibly tall woman with dark ebony skin, hair white as snow, and the most Cheshire grin ever seen. Caroline scowled, nudging Evangeline to stand behind her. “Malsuada.”

“Caoilainn. I’ve come to collect my payment. One soul, please.” Malsuada purred. A long tail was flicking back and forth behind her.

Caroline’s frown shifted to a brief look of surprise before falling back to a deep scowl. “I owe you nothing. I killed your demon for you, yet you betrayed the contract, and my village still died!” Even as she shouted, Caroline was shoving her hands in to her pockets to retrieve her ribbons.

Malsuada was so unconcerned, that the only movement from her was the swish of her tail and a flick of her hand. With that simple motion, a jolt of pain ran through Caroline’s body as she stiffened, unable to move even a single limb! “Caoilainn, you poor simple fool. You got exactly what you asked for. I believe the contract said power to save the village from monsters. And you did, didn’t you? Defeated the entire hoard. I certainly can’t be responsible for you losing control over the power and slaying all of those poor innocent people along with them.”

Caroline was struggling to get her limbs to obey, but with every attempt it felt as if the spell was ripping apart her muscles from the inside out. Through her teeth she gritted out. “You still took your payment.”

“Oh, no, oh no. Killing that helpless little demon child was not payment. Power doesn’t just come from thin air, you know.” Malsuada smirked, glancing at her perfectly talon like nails. “Humans never do read the fine print. A soul, Caoilainn. Power in exchange for a soul. It’s time to pay up.” The stationary spell on Caroline suddenly lifted, causing the woman to drop to the floor trying to gasp for breath to still the pain.

Evangeline had remained silent, but but now she didn’t think she could allow this to go on any longer. “Wait, wait!” she said quickly, easing herself around Caroline to block Malsuada’s way. She held up her hands to make sure she kept a distance. “Do you really need to take her soul? Maybe you might like something else instead!”

Malsuada raised an eyebrow at the small woman – one’s whose own soul was so brilliantly shining that it didn’t take a second for Malsuada to know what she wanted! “I might be persuaded to take something else. Oh, but… souls are what we devils treasure the most. To give up Caoilainn I would only take one of greater value. Do you have a valuable soul, precious wee human?”

“My lady, you have nothing to offer her.” Caroline hissed. She was struggled to get herself off the floor. Stories about Evangeline’s reckless rescues had circulated across Oracle. Deals with Devils was not something she needed to be involved in!

Evangeline tilted her head, trying to give it some consideration. Trading her own soul wouldn’t be very wise. And she certainly didn’t have any other souls to give in exchange. But, there was no way she could the devil take Caroline away, especially after she had taken such good care of Dark and herself. Good people could not be left to fend for themselves! “Well… I’d like to keep my soul, but would you like to take me instead? I don’t want to die, mind you, so you could have my life as long as I am alive?”

Perfect! It wasn’t a soul, but Malsuada knew how to get what she wanted and she’d have a lifetime to pull the soul out of the human. Instantly a contract appeared in her hands along with a feathered quill, holding it out for Evangeline to sign. “Trade accepting. Your precious human life for Caoilainn’s soul. Sign on the dotted line, please.”

“Evangeline, don’t you dare!” as feared, Gabriel’s Seer was doing something stupid! Caroline reached out to grasp Evangeline’s leg to pull her back, but she was just out of reach.

“Don’t worry, Caroline. We’ll figure this out later.” Evangeline took the quill and signed on the dotted line, with little fear. Caroline’s life was important, and now that she wouldn’t die, she would be able to help Evangeline out of a much less dire contract. And if Gabriel had not decided to leave for good, maybe he would help too.

Malsuada couldn’t help but smirk. Caroline had nothing that could match her own skills. And now she had a precious shining soul. Possibly the most precious in the world! “The deal is done. Thank you so much Caoilainn! You’ve been so accommodating.” Giggling with unrestrained glee, the signed contract disappeared. Malsuada snatched the wrist of her new prize and pulled her along. The portal to the Devil World opened up and they were gone in an instant.

Shit!” Caroline had never wanted to curse so much in her entire life. With shaking hands she retrieved one of her marbles, cracking it between her fingers to let loose a prepared spell. The magic washed over her slowly, healing the flesh under the skin that had been wretched apart by Malsuada’s spell, but the expended energy came at a cost! Forced to remain where she was until she had the will to move, she could only think on how she would explain to Gabriel.

It was not going to be pretty.