Memories | A Dark Trap & Wave Mix by Vibes (Link on my profile)
Night falls, and so does the curtain separating the two worlds.
They appear, as they always do, disguised (or rather, blended in) as mortal flesh, donning a mask of humanity.
Fangs that gleam even in the lowest light, claws too sharp to be fake, skin that is slippery, slimy, and salty despite the lack of ocean for miles.
Eryn feels most like herself on All Hallows' Eve.
She knows the usual shadow dwellers feel the same. This is the only time they can express themselves freely; where the humans are blinded by their own influence, unable to tell the difference between putting on a costume and removing it.
She moves through the crowd of individuals seamlessly, a basket dangling from her loose, swinging grip—yet she captures attention like a moth helplessly, hopelessly, drawn to a flame. There are scales running down her arms, legs and back, long, slender tail curling around her waist, tattered wings resting between her shoulder blades. Thick horns circle her head and curl at her temples like a halo—or a crown made of her enemies' bones.
The humans compliment her amazingly realistic costume.
Those who know better nod, avert their eyes and continue their night.
Eryn doesn't mind this. Companions are always few to none, no matter where she goes, no matter how odd the rest of the world appears.
So, she walks.
Across roads of concrete, through empty fields of grass, her feet—bare and calloused from years of simply walking and walking—make no unnecessary sound; rather, she listens, and matches the electric buzz that always comes this night with her presence. Her aura dims to something peaceful; her magic simmers instead of roars.
Small things—fae, spirits, lightning bugs—dance around her head, giggling near her ears. The wind presses cool, sharp kisses to her cheeks, greeting her once more.
Only here, at the gates of the local cemetery, she is seen as a guest.
Eryn leaves her gift—a small assortment of candy, a half vial of her blood, and a music sheet composed from this morning's clouds and the first rays of sunlight—and the tall gate swings open, yawning and groaning on rusted hinges as it welcomes her.
"Thank you." She says. It's good manners after all, to greet those who can be acknowledged.
The gate closes behind her, and the winding path ignites with little flames.
They stretch towards her, sensing the heat that radiates from her veins at all times, flickering wildly at her ankles, tasting her skin. They're like eager children, and Eryn has always been weak to children, so she drops her tail and swings it low. The Will-o'-the-wisps curl around the tip, nuzzling her as she passes. They are kind to her because she is kind to them, and only light the correct path leading her to a small gathering. Eryn thanks them with a tear drop of her own fire before stepping over to the gathered circle.
A tall, slender man dressed in a suit, face covered with a sack. His eyes are a void, and his mouth is a maw only for teeth and soft, untainted souls.
A pumpkin with a carved smile and a skeletal body, also dressed in a suit. Among the headstones she eyes a horse with glowing red eyes feeding on grass.
A couple with features touched by perfection and eternity. The woman's hair is interwoven with dead flowers. The man holds a chalice with liquid that swirls red and gold.
They all nod their greeting. Eryn has only been a regular at the gathering for the past fifty years, but she knows that for those who can live ten lifetimes, she is still a guest.
That's fine. Creatures only allowed to meet on one night of the year do not make good friends anyway.
She settles herself between the Bogeyman and Titania, and waits.
Time blurs here; minutes and hours inconsequential to those who only acknowledge years and decades and centuries. They don't speak (that is for later) nor do they interact (they never do). They are companions for the night alone, but their activity cannot begin until everyone is here.
Nobody knows when it arrives, and can only feel it.
The chill drives instinctive fear down Eryn's spine—every nerve in her body responds to the chime of bells that echo from the pit of Nowhere.
A black cloak sweeps the ground, settled around the outline of slender, wispy shoulders. A silver handle scatters the faintest of dust, stretching and expanding into a gleaming, curved blade. The figure is as anticipated as it is unexpected, and Eryn allows a small smile to curl her mouth as it sits, with all the grace of eternity in its bones, between Oberon and the Horseman.
It is ironic, or maybe fitting, that the closest she gets to Death is on Halloween night.
"Good eve friends. Good eve guest." Death's voice is hoarse, like a whisper in the breeze, yet deep as the gong at the End of Time.
Horseman nods, and so does Bogey.
Titania smiles, and Oberon tilts his head and chalice.
"Hello, old friend." Eryn uses words, because she uses words every year, because she has danced with Death countless times, and has rejected its kiss many more.
No matter how many universes her feet touch, Death is the only constant—an ever faithful watchman, waiting, always waiting.
She makes sure to visit at least once.
Under the dark, endless hood, Eryn spots two dots flash white before shadows sweep them away.
Her smile grows.
"Who will share?" Death asks.
"My loyal King will share." Titania says.
"My fair Queen will share." Oberon replies.
They look at each other, long and hard. The flowers in Titania's hair brighten, and Oberon's chalice is more gold than red.
Bogey shakes his head.
"Guest, will you share?" Death asks.
They all stare.
Her answer used to fluctuate as theirs do, but for the last decade she has shared nothing.
Eryn meets their eyes one by one. They are not her friends, but companions til morning's light. They will listen, because it is the polite thing to do, and Eryn's feet are bare and calloused from myths lived through and legends both un- and re-told.
"I will share." Is her soft response.
Then, an accepting nod.
As customary, guests go first.
Eryn takes a small fraction of time to pick a story. Not because she didn't have one in mind, but because she has never spoke of this one, not even to herself.
This tale sits heavy in her chest, and has taken up a near permanent space in her heart, carved out in jagged edges from painful memories.
However, these people are companions, and they will listen.
"The story starts on a small island called Easthaven, with a woman named Lucie Roy, and tells the tragedy of three monsters that tried to be what they weren't."
They all share something.
Oberon talks about the first Great Fae War. He loses an eye, gains a chalice, and sacrifices his sister. He wins.
Titania talks about the second Great Fae War. She collects the name of a goddess, steals the breath from a desert, and condemns an entire race beyond the eyes of man. She wins.
Horseman shares on the years he spent guiding spirits to the afterlife. Great kings, lowly paupers—none have escaped either the Horseman or Death. (The holes carved for his eyes have not strayed from Eryn, and she smiles when their eyes meet).
Because they did not speak, neither Bogey nor Death share any tales.
Eryn knows time is up when Death rises from his seat.
The others follow; Eryn is the last to get to her feet.
"Thank you friends. Thank you guest." Death says.
"Until next eve," Titania and Oberon reply simultaneously. In the space between a blink and a breath they are gone, replaced by the smell of blood and honey.
Bogey nods, and slowly disintegrates into black particles that slide down the path lit by the Will-o'-the-wisps.
"Until next eve," Horseman breathes, and the previously grazing horse quickly trots over to his side. Mounting takes a moment, and a portal of black fire rips the fabric of space enough for the steed and its rider to slip through before closing behind them.
Death's face is shrouded by the cloak, as usual, but Eryn can feel the fire of a strong gaze on her.
"When do you suppose we shall meet next, friend?" Eryn asks.
Death extends a hand.
Long, spindly fingers stretch towards her. Death doesn't touch (it can never touch, until they day she takes his offered hand) but the atmosphere wavers under his ash white bones, and Eryn's spell crumbles.
Black, twisting vines spread from the bridge of her nose down her neck where the scales have died, looping around like a noose. Her stomach resembles the branches of a tree curving and reaching to her navel, and her left arm is marked black with veins down to her fingertips.
Death holds up four fingers.
"Remove the curse, or I will come."
It is not a threat.
It is not a promise.
It is truth.
It is reality.
Eryn will die.
Dawn peeks over the headstones, and Death takes its leave.
Eryn breathes out with the wind, scattering dead leaves across the graveyard. Last time, the answer was five; the time before that was seven. At times like this, she wonders what is stopping her. Death has chased her for centuries—from the moment she breathed her first, it was there, waiting. She has had her fair share of encounters with Death, but every time, it let her go.
Not yet—never yet.
And now, she is cursed.
And now, Death is closer than ever.
There's an ache somewhere—too deep to be a heart, too shallow to be a soul. But it hurts whenever she thinks of her own death, cutting deep and twisting, until she can only be honest with herself.
'I don't want to die.'
She has lived for centuries, stealing more than what she was originally dealt and yet, she does not wish for her time to end.
Selfish until the end of her days, is what Eryn is.
The irony is enough to make her laugh (alone in a graveyard of human bodies, she laughs on her dry throat and laughs on her choked tears and laughs until her chest aches and heaves because physical pain is better than any other pain).
It's because of her own selfishness that she is cursed, after all.
The sky is draped with orange and purple silk, soft, tinted clouds beginning their journey, urging Eryn to restart hers.
So Eryn turns, and strolls back down the unlit path.
By the time she reaches the gates her skin is flawless, and her scales returned. She stoops by the gate and takes her now light basket.
Eryn checks inside. It is empty.
She pushes the gates open, and closes it behind her.
The curse will be broken, she decides, not for the first time, and not for the last.
For Eryn is selfish—always has been, always will be—and she will not die until she steals Death away with a kiss.
Thanks for reading.
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