I remain, touched by darkness. It was a strange, and utterly random thought, and Eliana dismissed it as soon as it came. Her hair fell haphazardly in her face, wetted and clumped by blood, rivulets of sticky warmth smearing her pretty face. None of the blood was her own.

A wrenching, twisting, a moment of pain and disorientation, and the creature that emerged into the moonlight was nothing more than human. She fell slowly to her knees by the stream, an absent expression to her lips as she began to clean away the proof of her night's gruesome hunt. Pink wisps, fading into clear water.

She lifted her fingertips to her mouth, drawing away the telltale marks of red, and leaving the cool metallic taste of fresh water behind. A sigh escaped her, perhaps the first breath she'd offered in some minutes now, for her chest was tight, and that need for air was strange for her.

Stripping away the torn lengths of cloth that pasted to her body with wet red, she began the lengthy process of cleaning her unimposing human form of the demon's sins... Body and soul, for once the blood was gone, she could bring herself to forget.

Cold. Cold was forgiveness, and cold was heaven.

Grandmother... Already she put the night's hunt behind her, as she turned her thoughts to the disapproving matron, her lips drawn up in tight distaste, should she discover the girl's absence before the dawn. Tales of ribaldry dancing in her head, it was certain. But even more horrified, should she learn the truth!

The change of clean clothes were there, tucked beneath the root of the ageless oak, where some fox had begun, then abandoned her den. Tiny hairs still clung to the light-colored fabric, glinting gold in the moonlight. "Little fox," Eliana murmured, as much a sense of comfort as resignation, "We keep this secret, you and I."

More suitably garbed, she heaved a deep sigh as she stood, stretching to ease the discomfort of a body not yet used to being human again. Dawn was only two hours away, she could go home now, and feign sleep for the remainder. Maybe she even would sleep... Though there was never any telling what dreams or nightmares such sleep would hold.

Scratching her scalp, which itched with some bit of stem that had found its place amongst her twisted locks, she picked the offending bit free, and tried to ease some measure of obedience from the rebellious stands. A strange, tuneless song tripped from her tongue, her crimes of hunger left behind with the blood-soaked bits of cloth that never seemed to come clean. It had been her mother's dress, once...

The song rose at the thought of her mother, lost to eternity shortly after she'd been born, or whatever madness had driven her into the dark. Either way, a lost soul... And yet for some reason, thought of the woman she'd never known, always filled her with such thoughts of hope. Destroyed by some twisted thing in the dark, Eliana's own father, if blood were to be believed, and yet the thought of the woman always made her smile.

Her grandmother had admitted once, in a rare moment of wistful remembering, that Eliana actually looked a good deal like her. "I have the gold of her hair," Eliana quoted aloud, seeing no reason not to, "And the twist of her smile as well, and a spark of disobedience that grandmother has never managed to sway... But my eyes..." And here she faltered, here she always faltered.

I would say that eyes like that, could have only come from your father. And that was the end of any fondness. Eliana's feet stopped in their tracks, and she lifted her face to the night sky, wondering what had happened that night, and what might have happened as well, the night she was conceived. A demon man, and a human woman, little held into this world by normal reason... Did it have to be a tragic tale? She didn't know, and that not knowing was far worse than bearing any unholy blood. Her grandmother couldn't tell her. Her grandmother's tales were always dark, and filled with pain.

Eliana's step lost some of its strength, though never any of her grace, and her mouth puckered a little in absent reflection, while she refused to think anything at all.

And then all thoughts of mother or father were driven from her mind in an instant, as she came far enough into the village to see the light flickering in her grandmother's window. A groan escaped her, from somewhere in her chest, and her shoulders slumped in something like defeat. So she'd been caught again. It shouldn't even matter anymore...

She did pause though, for just a moment, and turn her eyes out into the place where human life ended, and only the hunter, and the hunted, held sway. How easy to vanish, as her father before her had vanished, surely never to look back. "I cannot deny that I am his daughter," She mused, slowly casting her eyes down, to the tracks in the earth, made by her own feet, "Nor that his darkness echoes within me. And somehow, I cannot even hate him, for I know better than any what he is."

For a long moment she stood like this, and then her lips twisted into something like a smile, as she allowed herself a brief fantasy of her mother, fleeing the mortal world forever to be with her demon love. But of course, that hadn't been the way it had happened at all, was it?

"Grandmother..." She grimaced, then grinned, and spun on her heel, her strength restored. Let the old woman condemn her, let her try to deny her the night...

But when the darkness fell, the night was all she was.