She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes of starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes

Chapter 1

It is said that the soul recognizes its death when it comes, it is also said that love at first sight exists; that soul mates share an instant awareness of each other. But have they ever happened at the same time, has any soul ever met its match and its end in the same instant?

The day I was stolen from the earth was entirely unremarkable, almost too unremarkable in retrospect, as if all matters of the mysterious and unexplainable moved aside for a whole day because something decidedly more unexplainable was about to transpire. The sun shone blissfully on the scene below it; I was dancing with the narcissus flowers, careful not to step on any of those proud and smiling faces. They would not meet their death in the constant spring we enjoyed, and I would not be the cause of such an untimely passing. I let the breeze twirl my hair this way and that, enjoying the almost human feel of its invisible fingers. It was something I longed for; the touch of another person. The nymphs I played with would touch as in a game of chase, but strictly in jest-- just playing. They were flighty creatures, and that was what drove me to stray from their number. I simply wanted to have a moment where I felt that only reason no one would really be with me, was because there was absolutely no one there. No one but the wind and the flowers; the sky and the earth; the calm of my thoughts and the flutter of my own heart.

That is not to say that I was neglected. Certainly not. Not with a mother like mine; my mother had time to tend to all the crops in the nation, guard the sanctity of marriage and keep an eye so close on me, that I almost always felt like I was being followed. My mother is Demeter, goddess divine, everyone bow straight away. I will be the first to testify to my mother's importance, without her all humankind would suffer an eternal stretch of barren starvation. So to offend her would be a capital offence that could ruin not only you, but your family, village or city. As a result people tip-toed around her, got close but not too close, this rule applied specially to me. My suitors were carefully examined and unequivocally turned away, all of them being ruled too much of one thing and not enough of another. I knew she had no intention of letting me marry, or even talk to anyone for that matter; so I longed for it even more. But I was the maiden goddess, seen only as an extension of my mother, the lesser half of "the two goddesses".

These thoughts were interrupted however, when I tripped in a slight dip in the earth. Broken out of my not-so-pleasant reverie, I noticed something new on the air. There was the usual airy smell of grass and flowers, but there was something else mingled among them; it was comforting like the smell of damp earth, sandalwood and dying embers in a fire. But it was cold like a draft that suddenly rekindles the mind, it was cruel like the metallic taste of blood, and yet somehow it was totally irresistible.

This was something entirely new, and without thinking, I let myself become wrapped up in it. I whirled around in circles, feeling the rise of my hem fluttering around my slim ankles, then my knees. My hair was tossed upwards, my arms lifted to follow it and I received all of these feelings with the tilt of my chin and a small smile at the corners of my mouth. I began to dance, slowly at first with just my arms making snake-like undulations above my head, they floated down to my shoulders then my waist and hips and back up again, tracing over every delicate curve as if my body belonged to someone else. The wind picked up stronger this time, and I gave myself over to it. Moments like these were rare and I wanted to savor this one as long as I could, or at least until someone came looking for me. My head fell back and I shut my eyes; everything was black here, behind my eyes. I was vaguely frightened, but all my good sense was swept away by this wind that captivated me. My good sense might have told me that something was wrong here, that this was not just any wind and not just material from daydreams suddenly manifested.

The sense of complete happiness stayed with me as long as the breeze did. When it stopped, I felt a hole in my chest begin to dig itself, and fill with empty space that should have been filled with that glorious feeling from a moment before. Stricken, I looked around, and saw to my surprise that, where a second earlier it had not existed, there was a vine growing out of the dirt. It was the loveliest vine I had ever seen; it was supported by nothing in particular, and on its thin stems there were blossoms of the deepest crimson, fading into a vibrant purple, and then white in the very center. They were wider than morning glories, and deeper; and they had the firmness of lilies, but with more petals. Their scent was intoxicatingly sweet, too sweet. I leaned away and took a fresh breath of air to clear my nose and head.

I plopped down next to the vine and played with the edge of my dress. The flowers were so beautiful, but I didn't want to pick them. Not because I didn't want them, but because I always had the feeling that it was wrong to pluck a living thing from its home like that. I loved to admire them, but when they were in a vase, all I could do was sit and watch them die. But these flowers were so beautiful. I had to pick one, just one. I would tuck it into my hair.

So I plucked the flower.

There: no harm, no foul. At least that was the way it was before the earth started quaking beneath my legs. A few feet off, the ground cracked and split from the violent tremors. Giant rocks and spikes of earth jutted out at every angle, and a sound like a stampede of horses erupted from the center of the quake. I made to scream, but the sound got caught in my throat, sheer terror squeezing it shut it. My body was paralyzed in fear as well, and my eyes were stuck wide open. I saw two, then four jet black horses emerge from underground. Snorting, and foaming with effort, they pulled a grim and fearsome looking chariot out in to the open. The sky had turned dark in witnessing this trespass, storm clouds churned overhead, creating an artificial night. Bits of rock and clay and dirt flew in to my hair and pelted the rest of my body. So I threw my arms over my head and tried to wait for the end of this madness. But it never came. I heard the thundering sound of hooves near me, then farther away. I chanced a look up, but when I looked I wished I hadn't, because the chariot was circling back around and was headed straight toward me.

With a rush of adrenaline, I scrambled to my hands and knees, then my feet, trying to make an escape. But it was no use, my heel slipped from underneath me and I fell to the ground with a jarring crash that sent pain shooting up my left ankle and leg. I flipped over onto my backside and tried a sort-of backwards crawl; anything to save myself from getting trampled into unrecognizable flesh-colored mush. My thoughts were frantic, jumping from one bit of confusion to the next, wondering how in the world this happened, what was happening, why, and would I ever find out? The chariot seemed to be growing as it hurtled toward me, I looked up at its growing size and:

Time Stopped.

I gasped. I had found the face of the driver, and our eyes locked. Boring into mine, was a pair of sharp gray eyes. In that instant I knew what was happening: I had to go with him. He was the earth and the sandalwood and embers, he was the draft and the blood, he was the breeze and the vine…

The flash of the moment was gone, and he stood full and tall at the reins of his chariot with a ferocious look on his face that made him a terrifying sight. But he seemed to know me; he seemed to have been waiting for me. The chariot was almost on top of me now, and in spite of my attempts at escape, I reached my arm out to him, letting my instincts guide me. I looked up again, pleading with my eyes to let this not be my last moment, but as I did I felt that my arm had been seized up. The side of the chariot was inches from my face, then another arm slid around my rib cage and lifted me the rest of the way up into my speeding conveyance. My captor held me none-too-gently against the broad expanse of his chest with one arm and drove with the other. As if I would escape. The only thing that I felt was immense relief, relief that I had not died. All other feelings were blocked out, there was nothing but consuming and overwhelming relief. In my gut, I knew that there would be time for confusion and fear later, but now… now I would pass out.