The candles flickered and fluttered as I walked along the stone passageway. The shadows danced along the walls, I knew if I looked closely I could see unusual and disturbing shapes within them, but I kept my gaze straight ahead towards the black wooden door. The palace was infused with dark magic ready to snare the unwary but for me the shadows moved out of the way and I could hear them trembling in fear. The air was bitterly cold and outside the windows, icicles as sharp as daggers hung precariously from the eaves. The cold did not bother me, my body was warmed by magical energies. I reached the black door and paused to collect my thoughts. It was always harrowing to meet with the darkness.

I wrenched open the door and the light from the candles in the hall seemed to be sucked inside to vanish into nothing. I stepped through and closed the door behind me. It was utterly blank. Not just black but an absence of light. A negative energy that I could feel pulling on my body like a thousand tiny hooks leaving me cold and empty.

The darkness began to speak. Most assumed the darkness was male but I had always suspected it was female. There was something in the way it was so calm and precise, each word being pronounced so carefully that I thought it may belong to a woman. Then again maybe it had no gender at all. I could not say what the darkness was only that listening to its voice made me want to quail in fear and run screaming from the room to tear my own ears off and eat them.

"It has come to my attention that the princess of light will be leaving Dawn to travel to Dusk shortly. While she is outside their blessed walls she is vulnerable. You are to find her and slay her. Do not underestimate her. Do not hesitate. Do not gloat. Just extinguish her light. Do you understand, knight?"

"I understand," I replied. I was stunned. The elven princess had never left the citadel of dawn before. It was far too dangerous for her. If she was killed it would mean the end of the war. A war that had dragged on for millennia. A war that every creature wanted to end with every fibre of their being, one way or the other.

"I know you will not fail me, my most loyal knight. A token of my admiration," the darkness spoke softly, almost kindly which terrified me even more. Then the darkness kissed me. It was like standing in a snow flurry. At first it is wonderful and beautiful but then you start to feel the cold seeping into your bones and you fight it at first but then eventually you just surrender to its will and fall asleep within its embrace, never to awaken.

I had awoken though and now I stood within the forest surrounding the citadel of dawn. It was winter and the trees were grim and bare. The forest floor was carpeted in decaying brown and orange leaves. I stood in the middle of the muddy road, waiting for the elves to approach. They would be expecting an ambush and my skills did not lie in stealth or camouflage so I would meet them head on. They were no match for a warrior of my calibre. I soon heard the sound of hoof beats and they appeared from between the trees like white ghosts. Their polished armour so bright and sparkling it hurt my eyes just to look at them. As soon as they saw me they lost no time in drawing their weapons and moving to attack. They were highly disciplined and had no fear, their horses on the other hand were just horses. I let loose a blood curdling roar and the horses shied and spooked causing a momentary confusion. I took advantage of it and charged forwards wielding my black sword in both hands. It cut through armour, flesh and bone like butter. The elves fought with skill but their thin blades could not pierce my armour. I cut them down swiftly, aiming to take them out of the fight more than to kill them. Meanwhile the princess turned her steed and galloped off through the trees to escape.

With a roar I pulled an elf from his horse and leapt astride. The animal snorted wildly at this treatment but I gave it a good kick and it ran forward leaving behind its old rider without another thought. Horses have little loyalty. We whipped through the trees like a storm. Snapping unruly branches like matchsticks. I was slowly gaining on the princess as she slowed to avoid obstacles while I crashed straight through them. My horse leaping over massive fallen logs in fear of disobeying me. The princess' white dress flapped and snapped in the wind making her look like a ragged ghost. As my horse moved alongside hers I leapt from my steed, grabbing her around the waist and crashing to the forest floor in a tangle of limbs, armour and clothes. In retrospect this was a poor move as we were both almost knocked out by impact with the ground. Recovering swiftly I got to my feet and pinned her down to the ground as she gasped for breath. I placed my small dagger at her breast, glanced into her stormy blue eyes and hesitated.

Her eyes were like the sea. Beautiful blue depths pulling me down not into darkness but light. A pure light that filled my soul with warmth and longing. Like long cold embers suddenly bursting into flames. I could not breathe only drink in her ravishing terrible beauty. I was utterly lost.