The first thing Owen always saw when he woke was the pure white glow of his cellmate's hair. Almost nothing was visible in the cell until the door was opened and the light leaked in. The cell itself was small and dismal, and it made everything feel grey and lifeless. Fletcher was the only thing that still seemed alive. He was white, clean and glowing while the surroundings remained dreary and covered with filth. That was Fletch, always glowing and pleasant. Not to mention how relentlessly patient he stayed with Owen's many complaints and outbursts of anger in association to such a miserable state of events. It was unpleasant, and Owen was sure without Fletch he would not have survived with his sanity as long as he had. Fletcher was not like this place. His voice was sweet and soft like music, and he always spoke with kind words and understanding. He was Owen's own personal escape from whatever this place happened to be.
Fletch was beautiful, from the beginning and still, although dirt now smeared his face and clothing more than it had when he was first put in the cell with Owen, who had arrived only a day or so before he had. However, his hair was still a clean, bleach white and the airy locks seemed to shimmer as if untouched by the dirtiness that surrounded them. Across the room his eyes were prominent and direct. His eyes must have been dark, for it looked only as if his pupils were enlarged within the white, which seemed to give him an heir of innocence, although innocence seemed to shine from within Fletch himself.
Within a short time his cellmate had gained all of Owen's respect and admiration. He was never in a bad mood despite their situation. And he never complained, not even with the strange condition he found himself. From day one he had been in some unexplained pain as if he was being tortured without end, and Owen had been startled out of sleep by Fletch's screams of agony. He was out of sorts and could not be spoken to for days, and he did not appear to hear any of what Owen was ever asking or saying to him. Even when he shouted insults out of rage for having to watch and listen to Fletch's pain for days on end. Never stopping like it was some constant reminder that he had been taken from his home and thrown into the black pit of a prison cell. As if it wasn't bad enough not knowing how he came to be in this dreadful place. Fletcher's continual shaking and moaning was just a horrible addition, and he was lost in a whole other world completely oblivious to his surroundings and to Owen.
After what must have been weeks, he regained control of himself and only tears showed any indication of pain, which he tried very hard to conceal. Fletch could only whimper brief conversations with Owen, although it did seem to prove to him that he still kept his sanity. Regardless, the pain he was going through remained a mystery to them both, for he was without any sign of apparent injury.
For months they stayed chained against the walls by their arms, and only in the company of each other sitting on cold stone. Both had just passed their eighteenth year, and Owen learned Fletch was only a month younger. They talked mostly, passing long hours together and sharing their darkest secrets because they had nothing to lose now. It seemed somehow Fletcher was snagged from his foster parents while Owen taken from an orphanage. They only had each other, but somehow that was enough. They were frustrated to find that both had no recollection of how they ended up in the prison or why, and they quickly realized it was unlikely they would ever escape. And they could not see any way back into their old lives because it now seemed to only be a dream.
Over time they heard other captives collected into their cell, and outside into others surrounding them. Natalie was the first to join them. She was mouthy but seemed determined to get out, undeterred from the boys trying to convince her there was no way of escape. They had schemed and searched but it was impossible. Regardless she was always playing with her bonds and explaining how she would jump the guard when he opened the door. She was in her mid twenties and had no family as far as she could recall. It was hard to tell because of the blackness, but Owen could swear that her hair changed color every time the prison door was opened.
Soon afterwards came Jackson, who had been another orphan and he was quick to argue. He and Owen would complain and fight over stupid, insignificant things for hours. Like Natalie, Jack was also in his twenties and, although not unattractive, he had oddly sharp and pointed features. As well as black hair that stuck out wild and uneven, which made him look crazy and mischievous.
Gwenlynn was the last. A widow who had lost her husband and family in a fire only a year ago. She looked ageless and beautiful, but her eyes showed deep wisdom, which made her seem older than she appeared. She rarely spoke but quickly gained authority over the younger ones, as she often stopped arguments between them and also became the voice of reason and comfort when someone felt in despair.
One day Owen felt like he was finally drifting off to sleep when he heard a loud commotion coming from the outside of the cell.
'Unchain me!' the voice was clear and loud, 'Apollo will not see that last of me! And as for Richard he'll pay dearly. Release me or you will face my revenge as well you demonic slaves!' Owen rolled his eyes.
'Fantastic,' he said dryly, 'Now we have a maniac. So long sleep'
'Shut up!' Jackson snapped, excitedly, 'Finally something entertaining. Not that your snoring isn't, but hell that gets old very quickly.'
'You should hear yourself, Jack. I could swear you're part thunderstorm.' Natalie laughed and Jack glared daggers at her. She just shrugged.
'It's true,' she said.
'Hush up,' said Gwenlynn, 'I want to hear this.' Within moments the cell door was flown open and a tall, slim figure came hurtling on the floor landing in front of Jack. The door was slammed shut behind him.
'Well, hello there,' said Jack. They heard the newcomer scramble to his feet.
'Hello. Please to meet your acquaintance, Imp.'
'What did you just call me?!" Like lightening Jack was angry and ready for a fight, for it sounded as if this stranger had just offended him. Before the answer came Owen belted out with realization.
'Where are your chains?! How come you're free? Get us out!' He kicked his legs on the floor impatiently, as if that would somehow help him receive an answer.
'Umm... well... gee one question at a time,' the stranger stuttered, giving an awkward laugh in hopes to ease the tension and apparent hostility towards himself. 'To begin with, I meant no offence, sir. That is what you are, is it not? An Imp? Like me, see? I am a wizard, can't you tell?' Which of course, they could not as they were in pitch blackness. Not that it would help to see in any way. However, the so-called wizard appeared not to notice.
'Nicholas Ornated at your service!' he continued, obliviously, 'Which also, in answer to your second question, I am handcuffed but with enchanted cuffs. Not in those chains which do look dreadfully uncomfortable. How your arms must ache! Nevertheless, they have no binding spell for otherwise I would be able to escape them easily, by using a releasing spell to free myself.'
'There was complete silence until finally Natalie spoke out.
'What the devil are you talking about, lunatic?!'
'Oh, I see. Hmm...' this hum seemed very long and drawn out to the others. Then they heard him start to mumble inaudibly.
'Grarr!' Jack was exasperated, 'what's wrong with you?'
'Nicholas, are you alright?' asked Fletch. Suddenly the room was lit with a hazy blue color which, to his astonishment, Owen realized came from the stranger's fingertips.
Nicholas looked very young, almost no more than fifteen although he was very tall. He had tousled blonde hair and round blue eyes. They were shining like the light from his fingertips. He was dressed in a suite that was clearly over-sized and it hung loosely about him. There were tears in it and also blood stains, now turned a rich brown color.
'Now that's better,' he sighed. He looked around at the confused and surprised faces of the people around him. 'Let me try to explain what I can!' And he paused thinking, as if trying to figure out where to begin telling his tale.
'Hmm, now. How can I explain all this?... from what I know,' he started slowly, face contorted, 'The demons hold us captive, after they created us all to be supernatural beings. They used dark magic so to use us for some evil plan of theirs, which I have no idea what that could be exactly... then there is something about a sacrifice. We are the ones going to be sacrificed. The Cursed, that's what they call us, anyways. The demons, that is,' Nicholas paused momentarily, as if still trying to find the best way to explain. He continued.
'We were somehow given the powers and gifts of the creatures from the spiritual worlds, in order for this sacrifice to occur,' he sighed, 'Although why exactly, I'm not quite sure.'
'You lost me,' Jack shook his head hopelessly, and shrugged. He seemed not to care or believe in a word this newcomer was saying.
'It is very complicated,' Nicholas agreed, sounding exhausted, and as if he was attempting to make Jack feel better about not understanding. Not that Jack cared.
'How do you know all this is real?' asked Gwenlynn.
'I can sense what you have all been cursed as,' answered Nicholas, shrugging, 'So I know, or sense rather, what you are. And as far as the sacrificial plan of the demons, my understanding fails. I'm not sure if it's something I heard, or if it came naturally when my gifts had been released' This was getting harder to understand by the minute, and everyone was left very puzzled.
'What exactly do you mean that your gifts have been released?' Fletch inquired, after a moment's silence.
'Somehow,' Nicholas answered, speaking thoughtfully, 'they had these gifts and powers put within us, and they had to be released by a demonic ritual in order for us to become like the spiritual creatures that would normally possess them.'
'You're saying 'gifts' and 'powers',' Owen challenged, 'I feel no different and really can't seem to do anything special!' Nicholas smiled.
'Of course not!,' he said, ' You are chained to a wall! Also, you haven't been able to see yourself after you were imprisoned. Undoubtedly you will notice some changes.'
'Like I need a shave?' Jack snapped.
'What about me?' Natalie asked, quizzically, 'Jackson's an Imp what am I?'
'A Faerie!' the wizard answered, seemingly delighted that someone had appeared to pick up, and take in what he was saying.
'That'd be pretty neat,' Natalie responded, making a face of consideration, 'But how come I don't remember anything about this ritual, or whatever?' Nicholas seemed about to answer, when Gwenlynn started to speak.
'I remember,' she said, 'Very little, but none the less I remember some it,' she then shook her head, as if trying to get rid of some unpleasant memory. Owen was still very dubious of all that was being said, however he noticed Gwenlynn seemed to be believing it so he decided to second guess his better judgement.
'And what am I?' Gwenlynn asked curiously, in order to change the subject, for now everyone was looking at her as if encouraging her to elaborate on the subject she preferred not to discuss. Nicholas turned his gaze to her.
'A dryad. A tree spirit,' he explained, 'A dryad is said to be one with nature. They are also known to have the ability to communicate with animals and all of the natural elements. Very interesting, really.' He turned to Owen now, almost abruptly.
'But you really intrigue me,' he said. 'You see, you are mostly created a demon now, but somethings ties you back from being completely evil, and I believe it is the bond between you and your angel boy,' he gestured to Fletch. His eyes seemed somehow saddened now, as he paused and almost looked to be examining Fletch.
'It must have been the purification,' he spoke quietly, almost to himself. Then Fletch met is gaze, 'An angel purification is deadly, as it extinguishes all the evil of the owner's soul. It would've started during the rituals. It feels as if the two of you now have a bond between your souls. It would've prevented your death and still hold the demon boy grounded from becoming entirely evil, as a normal demon would be'
'What do you mean our souls have been bonded?' asked , tilting his head curiously.
'It means you almost did not survive the transformation and purification into an angel. It is said to be quite painful,' Nicholas explained. Owen's thoughts went to Fletch's screams the first few weeks they had been imprisoned. That would explain things. 'They must have bonded your souls to keep their angel alive for the sacrifice,' the wizard proceeded, 'This would also keep the demon victim from falling into complete evil. Still, that would mean the angel must go through an occasional purification to cleanse the darkness within the demon one's soul. And if one of you dies, the other will as well. However, looking on he upside of this bond, it does leave you both with a connection quite like the one you have with your own kind. You can always have a sense where the other one is and, with the right spell of course, you can transfer yourself to them, as in a sense you are a part of their very being.'
Suddenly, his eyes dawned wildly with realization. He knelt over by a surprised Fletch, fingertips still aglow, and took one of his hands, which was still in chains against the wall. Nicholas started speaking gibberish and soon his whole being was scorched with a blue flame, and Fletcher was ignited in his own white light. Soon the entire cell was blinded by it, consuming the group and forcing them to conceal their eyes. The last thing Owen saw was Fletch falling unconscious, before he began to pass out himself, falling into complete darkness.
Within just moments it was finished, and Owen opened his eyes in amazement. He was lying on a polished, wood floor in an elaborate dining room, and found himself to be gazing up at an enormous chandelier dangling above him. His head ached, and he guessed that whenever, or however, he had managed to land, in the process he must have slammed it hard against the floor. The boy then shifted into a sitting position, glancing around to see his companions in a similar state. But wait, he thought. Something was missing. Then his heart felt suddenly cold and he turned angrily to Nicholas.
'Where's Fletch?' he demanded.