PREFACE

The raven haired girl stood patiently as the twilight swirled around her.

"What are you doing here?" The wretched, broken boy appeared out of shadows, out of the twinkling stars.

With a barely rising notion in the back of her mind, the world moved around them, bending at her will. She smiled. She like to reassert who had the upper hand, who would always have the upper hand. It would always be her.

"I need you to do something for me," she said breezily. It was not a request or suggestion, they both knew. It was a demand.

"I'm through with being your bloodied hands." The boy stood tall, firm. Ah, how he had changed since she'd first met him. He was scarred now, his heart hardened. Though he thought he was standing up to her, she knew that he knew he would always do what she said, in the end. To prove this, or maybe just for fun, she envisioned the sky a scarlet red, with two moons glowing down on them. As soon as the idea came, it was so.

"That girl, the one you seem to fancy?" She smiled viciously. By the suddenly pained expression on his face, she knew she'd hit his heart in just the right place. "I want her at my compound by nightfall tomorrow."

He paused. "And what if I disobey? What will you do to me, Laurel?"

She was surprised. For a creature as old as she was, very little caught her off guard. But when he said her name, or the name she chose to go by, anyway, she was shocked. Names were sacred. They breathed life and gave power. Though years ago she'd thought she felt love for him, she realized now that their entire affair was probably because she admired him. He'd always been clever, she'd give him that.

She laughed softly, the sound made flowers bloom and die within a second, it made the ground shake then still. "I think you surely know the rules by now, do you not?"

He gave her a steely look. "Refresh my memory?"

She sighed. This was becoming tedious. With her imminent eternity, she found herself loathing boredom. "The usual, love." She said this with poison in her voice. He had called her that, all those years ago. "I will murder you, and everyone you have ever cared for." She shrugged. "Actually, you can go ahead and try your luck, try hiding the girl. It doesn't affect me much, except maybe with the second option I'll get a little pleasure out of draining the life out of you." She giggled, and turned around. She was through here, and she knew what the boy would do.

"Laurel!" He said suddenly. She turned around and was greeted with a crowbar to the head.

With her abilities, she was capable of being aware during unconsciousness. Sometimes, even, she saw glimpses into others' lives, or the future. Usually, though, she found herself in a small, black room, which was filled with shelves that organized her every thought. Of course, she could twist the world and make herself wake up. She could do that now, if she wanted.

But instead she let herself sit in the little black room, stay inside a crevice of her mind, while her body was out cold. This could be an adventure, she decided. Entertainment. The boy was admittedly her favorite mortal, and she still admired his cleverness. A crowbar took her out, for gods sake. That little bastard.

It didn't matter anyway. When her body awoke, she would simply adjust reality to make sure everything went the way she wanted. It always did.

He studied her face in her unconscious state as he carried her to the car. She looked like she had when he first met her, so young and trustworthy. He knew now that everything she'd appeared to be was just a beautiful illusion.

She did not make herself wake. He was relieved that she was going along with it, probably because she thought she could ultimately change the world to fit her desires. If the plan worked, that would not be the case. If the plan worked, she would be powerless.

He opened the back door of the SUV and dumped her out on the bench seats. She was an ancient one, she's be all right. He really wanted to kill her, to just end it all.

Of course he could not, though. Even in her death, her power would still be magnificent. It would spill out of her, killing her murderer.

He would wait. Soon, she would finally be on his level, with no power to hide behind. Then, he would kill her. She would no longer be in control of him. His freedom was all he had wanted for almost one hundred years.

And now he had Aria. Laurel wanted Aria dead, and he would not let that happen. He would sacrifice his entire army if it meant protecting the beautiful mortal he had fallen in love with.

As he drove, he imagined everything falling into place, everything working out. Those he loved would be safe. Laurel would be rotting in a freshly dug grave, or perhaps her ashes would be spilled throughout a desert where they would never touch another living thing.

He shook his head, almost laughing. That was a lot to hope for indeed.