Okay, this chapter is a bit confusing, I know, but it'll make more sense as it goes ahead with the story. This is the first chapter of a story I've been working on, redoing over and over again since the first draft was written in sixth grade.hehehe. How embarrassing.

Also, three asterisks and a scene change, four denotes a dream or memory. In the actual one it's in italics, but I don't think that'll show up here.

Chapter One: Demon Eyes

The town was silent, the fog created by the nearby ocean having not rolled out yet. The people were still tucked away in their houses, sleeping or waiting for the mist to clear, allowing them to go about their business without hindrance. There was no sound to herald his arrival, even in the thick mud that served as the alley's floor but the mist parted slightly, revealing a small boy. He was covered in cuts and bruises, his pale blue eyes were red with exhaustion and his blond - almost orange - hair was tangled and matted. He looked about, finding that he was alone, and then took a deep breath. As he let it out he closed his eyes, clenching them tightly in concentration.

The mist began to wrap around him like a cloak, growing thicker around the small figure until he was almost completely concealed from view. The boy took another deep breath, now almost totally hidden, and began to let it out. He started as a sound rang out - hooves on cobblestones. Someone was riding through town. He growled something in some rough, unknown language, and the mist wrapped tighter about him. Suddenly the foggy cloak fell away, but the boy was no longer there.

He looked down from his perch atop a nearby house, the pale blue stone roof cold under his bare feet; he watched the traveler carefully. There was a woman in a cloak, the hood covering her face, and her mount was as white as sea foam.

At first it appeared to be only a pale horse, but the boy closed his eyes and said something in the rough language again, and when he opened his eyes he could see that the girl's mount was no horse. From the creature's brow twined a long, shimmering horn - only one.

"A unicorn," he breathed in surprise. "What is he doing here, of all places? I thought I had taught them better than that." He narrowed his cold blue eyes in confusion. "Unless..."

* * *

A girl, barely over the age of ten, judging by her appearance, wandered through the foggy streets, her bare feet silent despite the puddles and patches of sticky mud that riddled the road. Her hair was pure black, without any highlights or reflection, blacker than the deepest night; her eyes were exactly the opposite, they burned bright green, shifting constantly, changing shades with each passing moment.

Her clothes were little more than rags - a tunic that was barely worthy of trash, and fingerless gloves that went all the way up to the middle of her bicep. She wore no shoes, nor any ornamentation, save a black band, about as thick as two joints of her index finger, which circled her brow. She looked as though she had been thrust out of one home after another for at the least a year, maybe more.

However, that was just appearance.

When she opened her mouth to take a breath she revealed pure white teeth, perfectly straight, with oddly sharp canines. She closed her burning eyes and continued to breathe in for far too long before finally going still. She let the long breath out slowly, opening her eyes with a smile, her eyes shining with satisfaction.

"He's here," she said softly.

* * *

"Is there anyone nearby?"

The girl's mount paused for a moment, stopping in the road, then shook his head.

No one, he replied.

She sighed with relief, her turquoise eyes losing their wary glint. "Good, that means you can explain what's going on here." She held out one pale hand and began counting on her fingers. "It's been," she paused and counted three fingers, "three days since you took me away from the Edyth-haar palace, saying it was for my own good. It's been two days since I saw another living person, and two days since you've said a word to me."; She held her hand to her heart melodramatically. "This is all very hard for a little girl like me to handle, you know."

The unicorn seemed to roll his eyes - a very odd thing to see something disguised as a horse to do. I have told you all that you need to know; the rest would only frighten you, Princess.

"Would you stop calling me that already? My name is Brianna. Bri-an-na." She growled, folding her arms in a huff. "And all you said was that the Demons were gathering their forces again."

That is precisely what they're doing. That is all you must know.

She sighed in exasperation, rolling her bright eyes. "Do all unicorns speak in riddles?"

Do all princesses behave as ungratefully as you? I saved your life, Brianna - you should be thankful for that.

"And how exactly did you do that?" she asked, hoping she could wheedle at least a little bit more information from her strange companion.

He blinked. Do what?

"Save my life!"

Whatever are you talking about?

She growled. "You just said you saved my life!"

I said no such thing.

It was now obvious to the young princess that the unicorn had realized his mistake and was trying to rectify it. "Fine then, keep your secrets; I'll find out eventually anyway." She sighed, silently adding, At least I had better.

* * *

The boy turned with a start as a bird - like a raven, although blacker than any raven could ever be - swooped down and began scratching at his face. With a flash of light it was an eagle, a huge black eagle with talons sharp enough to cut diamonds. He held up one small arm and called out something in his strange language again. The mist thickened around him swiftly; when it parted he was gone.

The bird landed where he had been and began surveying its surroundings, its fiery green eyes far too intelligent for a beast. It cried out in elation as it spotted the boy; he was running down the alley just below. He had been too surprised to cast a proper transportation spell, and hadn't gotten very far. The strange animal beat its wings once and dove down after him, striking again and again with its beak and claws, even as he reached the cobbled road. He stumbled onto the solid ground and slipped, the rocks slick, his bare feet finding no purchase. He fell, his head making a cracking sound as it came in contact with the stone, he winced in pain, blinking once before his eyes closed and did not open. The bird beat its wings hard, preparing to dive and make a worthwhile kill.

* * *

"Look!" Brianna pointed as a small boy stumbled out of a nearby alley, then gasped as a bird blacker than she had ever thought possible emerged after him. It was - although she cold barely believe it - attacking him with what seemed to be genuine purpose glimmering in its strange emerald eyes. Without hesitation the girl leapt off her mount, who seemed too shocked to object, and rushed to the boy's side as he slipped and fell, the great ebony bird preparing to dive toward him again.

The black-haired girl ripped off one boot and flung it with all the force she could muster, smiling as it hit its mark, making a satisfying thunk as it hit the bird's head. She squinted as light flashed, not opening her eyes for several seconds, blinking the glare away, and saw a small girl running down the alley.

"Wait!" she called. The little girl turned and narrowed her eyes in fury - eyes that were burning green.

Brianna forced her gaze away, looking down at the boy on the ground. When she looked back up the girl was gone, the fog seeming oddly thick in the place she had been standing. "That was strange..."

Pushing the girl's disappearance to the back of her mind, she turned back to the boy. He was unconscious, a trail of what could have been blood trailing from the corner of his mouth. The liquid seemed to be a strange color, however, oddly orange-tinted where it should have been crimson. She knelt down and held one hand to his brow, then drew it back in surprise. The boy was burning with fever, his temperature higher than she had ever felt anyone's rise. She immediately swept him up in her arms, staggering only slightly - the boy was extremely light - as she made her way back to the unicorn.

He cannot ride me, the snow-white creature declared.

"What? Are all those stories about unicorns only letting maidens touch them true, then?" she replied indignantly.

He shook his head. It is not that, Brianna, he explained. I only... He made a noise that might have been a sigh and shook his head again. Trust me, lady; I think I know this boy, and he can not ride me. That is all I will say.

She groaned in annoyance. "Fine, I'll leave town on foot then - I am not leaving him here for that...that...that whatever it was"

I was not suggesting such a thing, Lady. I was merely stating that he could not ride me. The girl sighed and shook her own head., turning around. She took several steps before turning back to the unicorn, which seemed lost in thought.

"Are you coming or not?" she questioned harshly. He started and followed swiftly after her, forcing back his thoughts to wait for a more opportune time to examine them. "Why can't he ride you, if those stupid legends aren't true?" the girl inquired.

I think perhaps that is a tale for some other time, he replied jovially, although he noted that Brianna seemed disappointed. I might just be acting silly, Brianna, don't worry. He just looks familiar, that's all.

She nodded. "I understand that perfectly well..." she blinked, stopping in her tracks. "Have you told me your name yet?" The snowy creature's head shook. "What is it?"

He was silent for several seconds. Finally, If a unicorn gives his name to anyone besides another unicorn then it doesn't belong to them anymore. They've given a piece of it away. They don't own themselves anymore.

"Oh," the girl sighed. "Very well, then - I suppose I don't need your name." She smiled brightly, walking once more. They continued in silence for a long while before Brianna spoke again - mentally noting that she was the only one starting any conversation. "I saw a little girl," she said simply. The unicorn jerked.

A little girl? How young was she?

"About ten, maybe younger. Her hair was pure black," the girl's eyes had become distant, as though she had been pulled back to the alley. She could still see the child's bright, shimmering eyes glaring at her, smoldering with rage. "Her eyes were green and they...glowed. At least I think they did. It was very strange - " She cut off as the unicorn pressed his nose against her back and pushed her forward.

We must get away from here, he said urgently. Hurry! He continued pushing her, speeding up to a swift trot that made the girl struggle to keep her footing.

"Hey!" she cried. "Slow down! What - "

He continued gaining speed. Run, Princess!

* * *

Hathrinn sighed, sifting through the large stack of papers that sat in front of him. "New business, old business, new business, old business, very old business..." He separated the huge stack into two slightly smaller ones, pausing only to brush his white hair behind his pointed ears once or twice. He came to the last paper in the stack and his turquoise eyes grew wide.

"I am sending this letter in the hopes that it reaches you before it is too late," he read. "I fear that Kortha and her kind are gathering too swiftly, that we will not be able to stop her if we delay any longer." He sighed and shook his head. "Don't you think I know that?" he growled at the letter.

Leaning his head on the table he closed his eyes and began to think. He thought about what could happen if Kortha was able to gather any more of her armies together; if there was no one left to stand against her. He opened his eyes and read over the rest of the letter, prepared to promise his comrade he would be on his way as soon as possible.

I have taken the liberty of arranging your daughter's escape from the capital - I think Kortha will strike there first - and will shortly be on my way to Sivrinth Forest. Meet me there if you can; if not, send a messenger from the Council in your place. With a faint sigh of relief he set down the letter, his hands shaking. She was safe. Brianna was safe. As far as he was concerned, that was all that mattered.

Hathrinn was the acting head of the Star council while the true lord was away on personal business; unfortunately, he had left nearly two hundred years ago, and not sent even the slightest word to the Council since then. Most of the members of the council - which consisted mostly of Star Elves - were convinced he was dead. Hathrinn alone knew that his lord still lived; he had been the last to speak to him when he left and the first to speak to him during his short return a slight twelve years ago.

"I have some things I need to work out," he had said, his orange eyes dark. "I do not know when I will be back, nor do I expect for anyone to believe I still live." He smiled, his sorrow-filled face brightening slightly. "Take care of them, Hath. Most of the members of my little council here are still children - make sure to raise them up to what we all know they can be."

He intended to do just that. With that memory burning behind his eyes, the elf rose to his feet and cupped his hands around his mouth. "Emergency meeting!" he called, using his magic to amplify the noise. "I need everyone between number two and ten in the Council Hall immediately!"

It hurt sometimes, to think of the family, the kingdom he left behind when he accepted the Council Lord's task, but the pain had dulled now. He had not seen his daughter in nearly twelve years; she was probably a different person from the large-eyed silent little girl he had know years before.

* * * *

"You're going to another meeting?"

Hathrinn nodded. "Yes."

The little girl sighed, brushing back a curly lock of hair from her bright turquoise eyes. "You're never home, daddy. After you get back from this one, will you promise to stay home for a long, long time?"

He turned to her and saw that she was smiling, her eyes filled with immeasurable hope and longing. She wanted her daddy; she wanted someone to hold her close when nightmares came calling, someone to scare the monsters away when she could see them wandering around in the dark. She wanted her daddy.

The white-haired elf knelt before his beautifully dark-haired daughter and placed his hands on her slender shoulders. "Listen, Brianna, I'm going to tell you something that you might not want to hear, okay?" She was still for several seconds her eyes - identical to her father's - filled with deep contemplation. Finally she nodded.

Hathrinn bowed his head, leaning it against hers, and smiled sadly. "I'm going to be gone for a long time, sweetheart."

"You're always gone for a long time, daddy! This isn't any different, is it?" she asked with a smile lighting up her face, the hope awoke in her eyes once more as her grin brightened the room. "Is it?"

He nodded slowly, standing up and swinging his small pack over his shoulder. "I might not come back at all this time, my little princess."

* * * *

Brianna narrowed her eyes, her thoughts drifting as they fled, the boy still in her arms. Her thoughts had wandered to her father, as usual. She kept replaying his last words to her over and over; trying to find some hidden message even after all the years she had found none.

"I will tell you this, my beloved daughter; do not forget who and what you are, nor what you're worth. You are half elf, just as you are half human. Many people will persecute you for your half-breed blood - do not listen to them." He had placed his hand on her forehead as tears streaked down her small face. "However, that does not matter." He had paused for several seconds, wiping his own pale eyes.

He smiled down at his weeping daughter. "You are my daughter and I love you very much, that is all that matters."

"I hate him," she whispered, tears stinging in her eyes. "If he loved me so much, why didn't he come back?" She recalled waiting for month after month, year after year, for a parent that had long ago left her behind.
"We have an urgent matter to discuss," Hathrinn said, looking about the circle of Council members. "Kortha's demons are massing in the east, according to Keane's most recent letter." He held up the paper then handed it to the lady nearest him. She began reading over it, the nodded, passing it down.

The elf sighed. "We must decide now if we are to fight back against it or leave the mortals to deal with a mess we should have cleaned up several thousand years ago."

The room fell silent, and the man became very nervous.

* * * *

"And what could you do, little one?" the woman asked, her glowing blue eyes bright. "Would you fight me? Would you, with your cursed blood, beat me?" She scoffed. "You can't even beat the monster inside you; what makes you think you can beat the monster that is me?"

The boy attempted to move, but found that, not matter how he tried, he could not. He began to feel cold, his limbs going numb. His orange-blonde hair was wet, plastered to his brow by sweat and tears. He clenched his teeth, which were beginning to hurt, as were his hands. Sharp pain lanced through his back, running through his shoulder blades, rushing up his spine, into his head.

He tried to cry out, but his voice was too quiet to hear over the echoing voice of the blue-eyed lady. She was laughing now, repeating her words over and over.

"You? With your cursed blood?

"With your cursed blood...

"Your cursed blood...

"Cursed blood..."

* * * *

The boy awoke with a gasp, sitting up so swiftly he splashed water everywhere. He looked down in surprise, and realized that he was laying in a washtub; he noted that he was still fully clothed. Apparently whoever had laid him in the tub had been too sheepish to undress him. Standing up, water coursing down his pale skin, he saw that there was a long white robe sitting atop a stool to his right.

He stepped gingerly out of the tub and looked around, surveying his surroundings. The room was small and sparsely furnished, holding nothing more than the stool and tub, with a bucket underneath the stool that contained various soaps.

The tile under the white tub was ultramarine blue with a vague silver lining. Aoler - a stone found only in Edyth-haar. When he realized that there was no one else around he sat back down, grabbing the bucket of washing things. He rifled through it until he found a scrubbing cloth, which he used to wash his face. He carefully undid the bandages covering both hands, stopping the survey the scars that ran across each palm before shaking his head with a sigh and cleaning the dirt from under his fingernails.

* * *

"Judging by the noise he's awake," Brianna said softly, looking to the man at the other side of the table. He nodded, making his hair - as fine as spider-silk - wave about slowly, as though he was underwater.

The man's skin was so pale it was almost white and his large eyes were silver. His face was heart-shaped, his features so noble and graceful that at first glance he appeared to be a woman. There was a blue band tied around his head, covering the odd star-mark that glimmered in the middle of his forehead. "And washing up," he smiled, leaning one elbow on the white stone table.

The sun was shining outside, a drastic change from the gloomy fog of that morning; although that had been in another town. Brianna and the unicorn had been fleeing the town with the green-eyed girl in it for nearly six hours, finally having come to a place that the creature deemed safe. The unicorn had wanted Brianna to bathe immediately, as though afraid she had come in contact with something hazardous, but she had insisted upon having the boy laid in the bath first; she would wait her turn.

The girl took a glance out the window, looking at the people going about their business four levels below them, their footsteps so numerous that she could hear the scuff of leather on stone from her seat four stories up. "So, can all unicorns do what you do"

The white-haired man shook his head, his hair once again whirling about his extremely feminine face. "Only those with extremely high magic. Yes, any unicorn could turn themselves into a human, but only a select few have the strength to change back."

She nodded in understanding. "How many unicorns have tried?" She asked, determined to find out all she could about her companion's race.

The man's eyes went dark. "All but ten."

Brianna gaped. "What?"

"There was a terrible war once, a long time ago. In that time, those fighting the war were greatly outnumbered and requested that any able- bodied being that could fight assist them; we unicorns were the first to step forward." His eyes became distant and dark, shining strangely. "We became the army of Spectra; the greatest force this earth has ever known. We fought, many of us died - it was terrible. I myself had not hatched at the time, but my parents often told me the story."

"Hatched?"

He smiled. "Unicorns are born from eggs, it takes a varying number of years - anywhere from ten to a thousand - for one egg to hatch; mine had been laid only days before the battle." He took a deep breath. "Continuing with my story...

"There were spells that the rulers of Spectra knew, that they could teach to us, they said. However, they could only be cast by human - or elven, as the case may be - hands. We decided to use a shaping spell to make ourselves human; my parents included." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting his sweet tenor voice carry him back in time. "The rulers of Spectra did not win their war, but neither did they lose it. One by one they fell, one after the other. Some died at the hands of those who had sided with the dark lady, others were killed by her creations, the Demons."

"Demons? The same ones that are gathering their forces now?"

He nodded solemnly. "The dark lady perished at the hands of a young, amber- haired man. Looking back on my parent's story of how he killed her I think he was her lover. He came up behind her slowly and wrapped both arms around her, holding here tightly for several seconds, then expelled all the magic he had, destroying them both."

"How terrible," Brianna breathed.

The man nodded slowly, his eyes going dark. "With that the war was over, no one had won. No one could have.

"We discovered soon after that terrible battle that those unicorns that had changed themselves into humans could not change back; they were trapped in mortal bodies."

The princess was looking down, as though she could picture every minute detail in her mind, the way they must have cried when they found out, how they must have screamed...She could see hundreds of people lamenting, some of them tearing their clothes and themselves, clawing their own skin until it bled, as though they could find their former bodies trapped inside their new ones.

"Brianna?" She started and looked back up, her eyes wide. "Are you all right?" the unicorn in human form asked.

She nodded shakily, a knot in her throat. "W-What happened to your parents?"

"They were trapped as well. The few of us that were left were able to cast one spell that we hoped would help our brethren recover their strength; we shaped them into elves, giving them back their immortality." He looked down at his long-fingered hands. "They tried to return to their old forms for years upon years, but we never found the way. Only those born in my generation could do so - as though our magic had a different ingredient than theirs."

"And what happened to the elves that used to be unicorns?"

Finally the man smiled, making the room seem brighter. "Why, they're still alive today, although swiftly losing their power as they interbreed with humans." He reached back and undid the band around his head, displaying the odd star-mark on his brow. "They were named for the mark the shone on their foreheads; like this."

The girl gasped. "The Star Elves!"

He nodded. "Correct." He leaned back in the wooden chair he sat in, the blue cushion barely wrinkling under his weight. "Now you see why I'm so determined to keep you safe from the Demons."

"Because my father used to be a unicorn - wait, did he?"

He shook his head. "His parents were, though - some of my best friends, actually."

"So it's because I'm part-part unicorn?" Her eyes went dark. "So if I wasn't half Star Elf would you still be protecting me?"

The man thought for a moment. "Likely so, although for different reasons."

"Such as?"

He opened his mouth to speak, but fell silent as the door to the bathing room swung open. The boy was now completely clean, dressed in the white robes Brianna had left for him. His hair - now rid of the dirt - was bright blonde with an oddly red tint, making it appeared almost orange. The gashes that had been on his face earlier were smaller than the princess had thought - they were almost invisible, they were so small.

"Hello," she smiled, leaping to her feet. "We found you in the road and - "

The boy's icy blue eyes traveled over Brianna, making her nervous - he was studying her. They slowly reached the unicorn, and they both gaped. "Keane?" the boy said softly.

"Dominyk!" the man grinned, sweeping to his feet and bending to a bow. "It is lovely to see you again my old friend." He straightened up and walked up to the boy, placing a hand on Brianna's shoulder. "Brianna, this is Dominyk Erythitev of the Afirihen; Dominyk, this is Princess Brianna Eleane of Edyth-haar."

The boy bowed swiftly. "What a pleasure it is to meet you, Princess Brianna."

She seemed too shocked to reply. "Uhm, Sir unicorn - "

"What, Keane, don't you believe in names anymore? You won't even tell Lady Brianna your road-name?" the boy smiled. The words rolled off his tongue swiftly, but with an odd accent. He said her name so that the r sounded more like an l and the a was exceptionally long. Brliahnna. He smiled with an underlying hint of pain, as though the gesture of happiness was masking a terrible sorrow.

The girl turned to her companion. "Keane?"

"It's my false name," he explained swiftly. "I use it when I travel in human form; it makes things easier."

"You could have told me that earlier," she said coldly.

Dominyk's smile had faded slightly. "So, what are you doing here?" He looked Brianna up and down. "You both look fairly road-worn, for a unicorn and a princess."

"He says we're running from Demons," Brianna said simply, shrugging. "I haven't seen any though."

The boy's face had gone blank at the mention of the dark creatures. "Demons?"

His eyes locked with the metallic gaze of the unicorn. "Whose?"

As though it pained him to do so, Keane winced. "My Lord, I do not think - "

"Whose?" the boy repeated with force.

Keane sighed in defeat. "The grey Demons," he said gently. "Kortha's Clan."