In a world of fog and gray, the youth is a shining being dressed in dark violet, his golden-flecked hair smoothed back from his bronzed temples. He resembles a human, but no man I have ever seen holds himself like a king, like a gleaming statue chiseled from topaz. I swallow. I am standing before a demon, the most beautiful being I have ever seen, and I can't run. I can only stand in the hushed glade and stare, snowflakes falling in the space between us.
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Clinging to the rags I had left, I gazed out upon the full breadth of the Furnace and shook at what I saw. The world had been wiped clean of all trace of humanity. Sharp sandstone peaks protruded into the gray sky like a humped backbone, spilling into vast seas of sand on either side. Boulders and driftwood, the castaways of some bygone mountain, cast the only disruption upon the land. And I realized-no sun crossed the sky; there was only constant, lingering grayness.
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My body slid from human to wolf in a crack! of black smoke. Wolf was panting and I watched frost dissipate on my hot tongue, sending tiny rivulets of steam into the air. The world was sharp and clear, and I never realized how many different colors of shadow there were. It made me savor the dark beauty of night even more.
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I'd like to sit there, ' I said softly to the girl sitting in front of the other mirror. She scampered. I took over her abandoned make-up and painted my face. Red cheeks, to attract hungry vampyre glances. Black liquid eyeliner and mascara, to draw attention away from my bitter eyes. My silky-thin, raven hair, undone in waves over my bare shoulders. The magenta shade of apple gloss on my lips, to make them plump and inviting. Finally, a strapless golden dress that hugged my hips and not much lower. I stood up, feeling the cold air slide down the bare skin of my back like fingers, and panicked. I couldn't wear something like this! Not without a cardigan! A light dress jacket, at least! I took a gulp of Amrit's wine and detached myself from the fretting child in my head. Then I strode from the sleeping chambers.
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The lanterns filled the sky, pulsing with the harmonious light of fireflies, and a great host of ghosts departed from the earth to join them. The higher they rose into the zenith of the heavens, the further night was chased back, until a great and radiant being resumed its throne in the sky.
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We cannot leave, but that does not mean we will stay-stay in the same place in the same system that profits from recycling us at the bottom. We will disrupt it. Build our own space that will swallow bits and pieces of theirs. We were waiting for permission, waiting for the Darkness to acknowledge our worth, but we've always had the power to make it come to be.