She held a demonic weapon in her hand—a monster, a work of evil. Pepper buried the sword in the dirt, broke it, and threw it away. Still, the fiend would not leave. She ran from the weapon, hearing the laughter of the sword claw at her soul.
Destroyed taverns and churches fell behind her, with misshapen demons and soldiers in pursuit. She came to a cliff side and screamed an unsaid name, lifting her hands. The horrors closed around her; at the front of the demons was the dark twin again. She carried a blade likened to a dragon tooth, its length vibrating with power and tearing at space like a vacuum.
The sinister double raised the weapon to strike. The red girl shrank back against the crag as her death approached, screaming the silent name again. The bone stopped inches before its target, and the villain gave a start before the appearance of a newcomer.
A handsome youth had appeared by Pepper’s side with a jade sword raised. While short of stature, his hair was like a waterfall of gold that stretched down his spine. His vest and pants sparkled with gemstones, like a torch of white flame.
Pepper’s twin growled like a wild beast. She backed up before his radiance.
“You shan’t touch her!” the youth cried, pointing his sword out in challenge, his brows furrowed.
The doppelganger roared and swung her bone of fire. The youth caught the blade, deflecting each follow up like a professional swordfighter. Sparks flew from the clash, the heavens trembled, and the earth shook. The antagonist found herself pushed back again.
“You cannot protect her forever, foolish elf. I, Tiamat, shall have her body and mind eventually. You will see.” With a hiss, Tiamat vanished into smoke, and with her, the rest of her lackeys.
Pepper sighed with relief, her hand at her breast. She regarded her savior, who turned to face her. He seemed familiar, but Pepper couldn’t remember his name, like a splinter lost in the deep recesses of her mind.
“Thank you,” she said, bowing. She hesitated and gasped, noticing she wore a long ball gown. Her mouth parted, fingers caressing each ruby, shining like specks of magma. The fabric was soft like silk, interlaced with tiny jewels.
She looked up at the youth, her brows arched in confusion.
He smiled, gently taking her silk glove, his lips pressed on one of her knuckles. “It’s my pleasure, milady. In exchange, could I ask you for one dance?”
“A dance?” she said, blinking. “Okay.”
He nodded and turned towards the cliff face. Heedlessly, he walked off the edge, still holding her hand. She followed behind him, her feet stepping on air as if it were stone. The gray sky turned sunny, and the milieu smelled of honey and perfume. The sunlight reflected off her dress, the fabric shimmering like diamonds cast in the lava of her hair.
Her heart raced, lips curled into a smile as her body tingled with warmth from his strong grip. He gently took her into a waltz, spinning her around, hands at her hips.
Pepper’s eyes never left his when she faced him. She felt the warmth on her cheeks, the passion in her body surging like wildfire for this mysterious man. Who was he?
He paused, holding Pepper close to his face, his lashes grazing hers. He kissed her on the lips, slowly, deeply. She moaned with the experience of his mouth—wet and soft against hers, so comfortable and exquisite.
He pulled back and frowned, hands at her shoulders. “Pepper, you need to wake up.”
“Wake up, please. Everyone is worried.”
He released her and she fell from the sky—her invisible floor had vanished. She screamed as she descended towards the black ocean below. The light of the heavens vanished.
Then, everything fractured like glass.