"You people think it's radiation and gasoline fumes eating your ozone. Ha! Little do you know that there are demons ripping chunks out of your atmosphere piece by piece." Here she took another sip of whatever was in her flask and swallowed. "You people think oh conservation and oh reduce pollution, but if the demons want you gone, they're going to kill you all." Kari sat with her mouth gaping open through the entirety of this speech and was just now regaining control of her motor functions.

"So there are demons trying to destroy the human race?"


"And you're here to help?"

"Is that a question or a statement?"

"Both. I know you're here to help, I'm just not quite sure who it is you're helping."

"Yes, I'm here to help. As for who I'm helping, whoever I feel needs it most. Like you for example. The demons had an unfair advantage, you were alone, and I just happened to be passing by. But in past instances like the Holocaust, I was on the demon's side."

"But how did you—"

"I know it was a long time ago." Zedalia took another swig of whatever was in the flask. "Pfft. That's nothing compared to how long I've been alive."


"Somewhere back in the late B.C.'s I was one of those damsels in distress. You know, the princess locked in a tower beset by a dragon and all that jazz. Well despite what the fairy tales say, not every princess gets rescued. A knight in shining armor doesn't always come crashing through the door, sword in hand, ready to take you for his wife. And all that wish wash of a princess still being able to fit into her size zero gowns after being locked in a tower for umpteen years is completely preposterous. You have no idea how hard it is to maintain your figure when you're locked in a ten by ten room for an indeterminate amount of time. Unfortunately, neither did I. I lazed about doing whatever damsels in distress do, and I gained a few pounds to say the least. When a knight finally did get himself past the dragon, trolls, and the fire breathing gargoyle, he took one look at me and jumped out of my fifth-story tower window into the moat full of piranhas below. That was an unpleasant jolt to my morale, and since I wasn't willing to fling myself out of the window after Sir Diealot, I sat in that stupid tower for another five years before the demon came."

"So you're really one of them."

"Not really, The demon in question, Sileny I believe was her name, was thrown from the gates of the demon realm straight through my tower window one night." Zedalia looked up at the nonexistent stars and her voice took on a hint of lust. "She promised me freedom, freedom from the tower that I had grown to hate, freedom from the rest of the world. She invited me to join a superior race one that would outlast humans for millions of years." Her glowing red eyes dropped from the stars and her voice dropped to a whisper. "How could I reject such an offer?" Zedalia's gaze shifted into the distance and Kari could breathe again. In a normal voice she continued. "Sileny told me that she would "share" my body with me. All I had to do was close my eyes and let her in. Having been locked in a five-story tower for over a decade I didn't get the memo that you should never let a demon take control of any part of your being, so of course I did just that. It never occurred to me that Sileny could be taking advantage of me, which was exactly what she was doing. While I was unconscious, allowing her in, she made a few unauthorized changes. Hence the wings, red eyes and razor sharp talons." She ticked her elongated black nails on the silver dagger hilt in her belt. Kari sat silently waiting for the rest of Zedalia's story to unfold. It was fascinating this woman had been possessed by a demon, was a demon, but she was sitting and talking like a civilized person. It just didn't measure up. The ticking stopped and Zedalia proceeded "Things went pretty well at first. I was enjoying the freedom of being in the real world without stone walls on every side, and the experience of flight was inexplicable. In addition to the wings Sileny remodeled my body to resemble the pre-tower days but better. I was strong, I probably could have lifted an entire hay wagon if I had wanted to. I absolutely loved it. Apparently so did Sileny, she kept taking over more and more of the body that I was used to controlling myself. By the time I realized what was happening it was almost to late. Asking a demon nicely to get out of your head is never a good tactic and is a neon signal for a demon to take full control. I had been out of my tower for about a week and I wasn't about to give up my body without a fight." Zedalia's fists clenched and her eyes clamped shut as though she was fighting for her body right then and there. She advanced through gritted teeth. "Waging a war on an entity in your head is a traumatic experience and you can't possibly imagine it or relate to what it feels like unless you have actually done it. I don't know how I got rid of Sileny but I remember writhing in the dirt somewhere, screaming. I regained consciousness one day alone in my body. Sileny was gone, but she left me a gift of sorts. Red eyes, black talons, fangs, and wings." Her eyes snapped open, burned read and faded. "Enough human pieces of me are left to conceal the demon bits. For the most part." Zedalia whipped around, leather coat whirling, and carved four long grooves in the brick wall with her talons. Her head hung between her shoulders, her hand resting on the cool bricks. "For the most part" she whispered.

Her body shuddered and she paused for a moment before she sat down again. "Now what were we talking about before I so unwisely spilled my life story?"

"I—I can't remember."

Zedalia's eyes flared "You're going to have to be sharper than that if you intend to fight the demons and save the world."

"But I never said said anything like that!"

"Why do you think you are here, hmm?You're still breathing aren't you? All your limbs are still attached?


"Well call it luck or call it divine intervention. Hell, call it whatever you want, but you're the first person in thousands of years that has even realized we exist. I'd say that's some sort of sign. Don't you think?"


"Never mind. We were discussing my role in the Holocaust."