I walk through the night, savoring the cool comfort of the darkness. It was, quite literally, the feel of my mother’s arms. Nyx, the template from which I had been cast. She had outdone herself tonight, the dark a thing of beauty and breathing magic. The air vibrates beneath the weight of power, my own lapping at it eagerly and reeling from the potency. 

I can’t quite believe where I am headed. Eros had thrown out the invitation almost carelessly, and I knew that he had not expected me to accept, and truthfully, I hadn’t. I had committed neither way, just smiled coyly and exchanged our usual barbs. I myself had not thought to come, and I was still not quite ready to face the demons that had driven me from the house and out into the night. I clutched the bottle of Demeter’s special brew and allowed the bright lights and sounds of merriment to reel me towards the mass of humanity and gods. 

Circling the gathering, I survey the crowd, considering that this would normally be a prime hunting ground. I had dressed for the occasion: long legs encased in the blackest of leather, my gait smooth, sensual and silent despite the heavy boots with little skulls decorating the sides. My corset top molds lovingly to my shape. The leather is embossed with a delicate lace pattern, at odds with the panels defined by the boning, making it appear as if I am wearing custom armor. My upper back would have been bare, exposed to the kiss of the night breeze, except for the dark shade of my power that has draped itself over my shoulders like a hooded cloak. My black hair short and choppy tonight, the spiky ends tipped with a dark violet-blue. No one knew where the steampunk fashion sense actually began…no one but me. 

The Halloween Rave is in full swing. I stand in the shadows on the edges of the gathering and allow myself to wallow in the energy generated by the humans. Their belief in magic, in the otherworld, and in other beings, never more pronounced than on this night. The fear, excitement, and wonder create their very own power source. Inhaling deeply, I open myself up to it in a way that I haven’t for centuries. Unable to hold at bay the thoughts that had been beating at me for months now, I acknowledge the truth: I am lonely and I am alone. I am in such a rut, and I realize that I had fallen into ennui ages ago and had not even noticed. If I had, I hadn’t cared enough to do anything about it. I know why I first created distance; my power did not allow me to live in ignorance of the true nature of beings, be they gods, mortals or others. I know their faults long before I know them. The ability I was born with, the power that I am, is not something that will be ignored or denied. When you are drowning in violence, depravity, dishonesty and the harm that all beings will attempt to do to another, that is what the world becomes to you. Until you begin to not only expect the absolute worst but to embrace it. 

Catching a glimpse of Eros as he moves through the crowd, a small smile curves my lips. He and Dion certainly know how to throw a party. The lights strobe and dance, creating a fantastical display of an aurora borealis, spotlighting in color the many tableaus taking place. The people in costumes, most in pairs or groups, flow through the night and I can clearly see the connections between them, strong vibrant threads that create a chaotic landscape of emotions. I realize with near panic that I want that for myself. I want to feel something, anything other than the negative. And for the first time in millennia, I know fear. Fear of my own needs and desires and what that means. 

I uncork the bottle in my hand, my wings exploding from my back in black fire. No shadow wings for me tonight; these burn with dark light, an unearthly glow surrounds me as my power mantles around me in anticipation of being let off its chain. I lift the bottle of brew that was meant to be shared, meant to be consumed in very small amounts. Raising it high in salute to the revelers before me and the gods above, I place it to my lips and drink in gulps.  

A soft moan escapes me as smooth liquid fire burns a path down my throat, my eyes fly wide to reveal a dark nightscape shot through with swirls of galaxies, and my back arches as violet lightning plays through the black fire of my wings. Demeter, the Goddess of the Harvest, concocted this brew with all the power of this season, and it is filled with life. It contains the fierceness of the sun and the energy of the earth. The taste of gentleness fills my mouth and the quiet indomitable strength of motherhood settles in my soul. I shudder as the righteousness of the harbinger of sacred law twines with my own foundational nature of retribution, justice, and vengeance. While not foreign, these types of energies do not live in me. I belong to the night and the sky and I am at home in the shadows. I am a being crafted from the dark, and while the two are of the same, flip sides to the same coin, this is the first time they have coalesced in me with such intensity. I gasp for air as the bottle drops from my lips, tremors wracking my form as I attempt to process what I have consumed. My own power, already drunk on the magic of the night, keens in delight as it begins to seep into the world around me. And I allow it. 

Flaring out my wings, I move towards the writhing mass of humanity and gods. I glimpse Erebus in the DJ booth, and I blow him a kiss. The thrum of the music a beacon, feeling the rhythm in my blood as it synchronizes to the heartbeat of the planet. I hold the beautifully crafted bottle high, my body moving to the beat. Dancing, I weave my way through the costumed crowd to the very center. People gasp and then exclaim in pleasure as they catch sight of my wings. Reaching out they touch the feathers in wonder, the violet lightning clings to their skin. My power licks against their fingers and then sweeps out to engulf those closest. In those moments that they exist within my energy, all of their fear, all of their worries, and all of their burdens are laid to rest and they become beings without fear, without worry, and without burdens, viewing the best versions of themselves. I become the mirror of what they were and then show them what it is possible for them to become.  

Drinking more of the essence, the taste of sunshine coating my tongue, my eyes drift closed. I relish the release of sadness and loneliness, savoring the feeling of being a part of something in a positive way. I know on some level that what I am doing will not last. In the end, justice will find those that deserve it. I will find those that deserve it. And the retribution will be all the more brutal for them having seen what could have been. But tonight, I was beyond even that mercy. Tonight I want to numb that part of myself that knows way too much about everyone and everything. Tonight, I just want to be and exist and to not feel alone. I know that is an impossibility, that not even I am beyond the reach of my power. But in this moment, of the amalgam of light and dark, day and night, magic and power, I have found balance, and I will rejoice. 

Beneath my feet, flowers spring from the earth. Owls, ravens and a variety of birds begin to collect in the trees around the clearing.  Eyes shine brightly within the forest, reflecting the flames and lights of the rave. My power sweeps through the wildness of Olympus Park, a dark shadow soaring over the land. Life and dark magic carried in every wing beat, stirring up old and forgotten spirits of the ancient forest, opening doorways that had been closed for eons.  

I dance for hours. The mortals around me stay close as the clearing becomes carpeted in wildflowers and ringed with creatures, their bodies phantom shadows between the trees. My mind wanders as I move, giving myself over to the pulse of the music and the beautiful chaos of the night. I allow myself to imagine what I could have, if I am strong and brave enough to reach for it. I allow myself to long for the connections that have eluded me for so long that I have stopped believing they exist. I acknowledge what I would need in a mate, acknowledge my desire to know the warmth of belonging. And I turn all those hopes, dreams, wishes, needs, and wants loose into the night. The hunger, the need, the craving, my heart’s desires, I set them free into the magic and finish the last of the bottle. And I glow, my power emanating violet through small cracks in my skin, symbols of an ancient language forming over my body. I dance back to the edges of the writhing mass of people, unknowing and uncaring as they wilt behind me. No longer sustained by the energy emanating from me, they stagger, many dropping to the ground in exhaustion. I am past noticing, no longer thinking. I had released all the warmth that was inside of me and I am cold in my primal power. I have never been more dangerous.  

I wander back into the forest, leaving a path of green grass. In my wake, small flowers of deep purple bloom with every footstep. The cold in me whispers that I no longer have to distribute justice on a case by case basis. One blast of my power right now and half of the planet would know what it meant to face me. My mind weighs the numbers, barely aware of the creatures that slink in the shadows. I feel the magical beasts mixed with those of the mortal plane, only slightly curious of their presence. They follow for a bit and then begin to disperse as the trees thin. I lift my gaze towards the sky and the night breathes into my face, dispelling some of the cold. I pause at the edge of the woods, reluctant to leave its embrace. 

An almost inaudible sound catches my attention, just a whisper of movement behind me. Turning back to face the forest, my gaze catches on a small black cat sitting on the carpet of green. Our gazes lock and the kitten’s eyes fluoresce blue.

Nemesis (Aisling MacKay)
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