The room was dark. Not the kind of darkness you see on a moonless night.
No, that would have been comforting compared to this darkness. This darkness was that of a windowless room, one that had been filled with terror and despair for a very long time.
It was in this dark room that he had found the child, locked in a cage like an animal. A more perfect addition for his Devils he could not have imagined, try as he might. The child was left behind, abandoned -for the moment at least- by the men who had bought it. Who abused it. But he knew they would be coming back soon, and so did the child. Despite the fact that it hadn't seen any daylight for some time, it knew, it felt that the men would be coming back soon.
But tonight would be different. Tonight he would free the child from this horror. Tonight, he would take the child back with him. Back to Avalon, home of his Devils, the abandoned children he had brought there over the years.
The Child Thief, some called him, but he did not think of what he did as stealing. He had rescued those children. Every one of them he had rescued from one horrible fate or another. Every one of them he had brought home with him, to Avalon, where they would be young forever and where they could help him fight those horrible, disgusting creatures that brought the scourge to the Lady's beautiful lands.
But he was daydreaming. He should speak with the child, try to win its trust before those men came back. He had heard them -the child probably had too- speaking of the 'sacrifice'. Apparently, this child had served its purpose as entertainment and was now going to be used for a 'higher purpose'. Namely, as sacrifice to some demon.
The Child Thief almost laughed aloud at the thought. Demons. How stupid these humans were, to believe in such nonsense. The only things he knew that could be considered demonic where the 'flesheaters' who, ironically, believed they where doing 'The Right Thing'. And perhaps Ulfger too.
No, the only things that go bump in the night were monsters like the Barghest. But despite the fact that those were 'monsters' they were still creatures of Fearie, of magic. Nothing so ridiculous as demons could possibly exist.
This was what the Child Thief was thinking as he jumped down from his hideout near the ceiling. He carefully approached the child, making sure to make some noise, so the child would know someone was there. And indeed it noticed, but it only showed the slightest reaction, showed no fear at all. In fact, the child seemed almost emotionless, as if it had lost its soul ('this demon nonsense again', the Child Thief thought, he should really stop thinking about that stuff).
'Hello there', the Child Thief said to the child, who still showed no sign of any emotions. 'I'm Peter, what's your name?' No reaction. He knew the child wasn't mute, he had heard the screams. Those screams where what had alerted him to the child's presence in the first place.
'I'm here to get you out of this mess,' he told the child, 'but I'd like to know your name first.' The child's face assumed a somewhat puzzled expression 'Good' the Child Thief thought, 'at last he's showing some emotion.'
'Ciel', the child -Ciel, apperently- whispered. 'Well then, Ciel, now I can help you. Soon the men will come back-', at this the child flinched, '-but there is no need to be afraid, because they won't harm you tonight. I will be waiting for the right moment to ambush them, and then you can come with me, to a new home, a happier place!' as he said this the Child Thief smiled his most contagious smile.
The child, however, did not smile back at him. Instead it said in a quiet voice: 'I have long since forgotten how to feel happiness or be afraid.' 'Such sadness' Peter wondered, 'what, in the Lady's name, have they done to him?'
But then Ciel spoke again: 'Before you waste your time rescueing me, I want to know where this home of yours is.' 'Why, it's on the island of Avalon, of course,' Peter said, still smiling encouragingly. 'Avalon?', the child asked.
'Yes, I live there. In fact, I have a fortress of my own there!' The Child Thief, still smiling, said. He was beginning to lose faith in this one. Most children weren't this suspicious. But then, this child probably had more reasons to be suspicious of others than most of his Devils had had , before he saved them.
Then, it occured to him. How stupid he had been! The child -Ciel, as he should call it- couldn't see him of course! Children these days were taught that magic didn't exist, but Peter knew better. He lived with magic, he was a part of it. Because of this he was able to see things in the dark that would stay hidden from the eyes of others. But Ciel couldn't see him. That must also have been the reason why the child hadn't responded to his smile when all the others had.
As soon as he realised this, he made a small light, so that the child could see him.
And see him Ciel did, including his golden eyes and his pointed ears. How amusing it was to see the surprise on the child's passive face. He could almost see him wondering how this boy had gotten into this godforsaken dungeon and how a child was supposed to save him.
'Will you come with me to Avalon?' Peter asked the child. And, though he probably didn't believe any of it (yet, they all believed him eventually) the child answered him calmly: 'I will, if you can get me out of here.'
Then the Child Thief heard a noise on the other side of the door. He saw that Ciel had heard it also, for he stiffened. But Peter smirked, and this time -despite the situation- Ciel smiled a little as well. 'Of course I can get you out of this rat-infested hole you people call a dungeon. If I couldn't, then how would I have gotten in in the first place?' And, having said this, Peter put out his light and jumped back to his high perch near the ceiling. Moments later the men came in.
They all wore the same, black (ridiculous) robes and carried torches to light the darkness that the dungeon had been submerged in. There were at least a dozen of them, maybe twenty, but Peter didn't count them. He didn't care. They would soon be dead, no matter how many there were of them. While several of them began drawing the pentagram they would use to summon the (alleged) demon, one walked to the cage and fumbled with the lock, trying to open it but not succeeding because of his (ridiculously) long robes. He would be the first to go, Peter decided, his golden eyes gleeming in the torchlight.
The child Thief jumped down, landing right on top of the man trying to open the cage. Before the man could even open his mouth to utter his scream, the Child Thief had slit his throat. The child in the now opened cage looked at him in a puzzled way, as if he couldn't believe someone would do this for him, let alone could take on this many all on his own.
Before Ciel had the chance to say anything Peter motioned for him to be silent and to hide. While the child did so, Peter jumped back up to the ceiling. A few heartbeats later one of the other men noticed his dead friend and the empty cage, but tdidn't get any chance of warning the others, either. He was dead before he hit the floor.
Then all the torches went out at the same time. Several screams could be heard in the dark, but nothing could be seen, except by the Child Thief himself.
When everything became quiet once more, Peter sighed and made a light again.
The ch- Ciel, he corrected himself, was staring at him in disbelief. He was right to do so. The dungeon had turned into a slaughterhouse. The carnage was terrible. Blood covered the floor and parts of the walls, the floor was littered with bodies and parts of bodies. Yet somehow there wasn't a single drop of blood on Peter. For the Child Thief this slaughter was certainly nothing new, but Ciel might be scared.
The Child Thief smiled his contagious smile. 'I hope I haven't scared you, Ciel.' The boy blinked, surprised by the sound of his own name. 'I already told you', he answeredd, 'I have long forgotten how to be afraid.' And indeed, he sounded very calm. 'So', Ciel said, a small smile, more a smirk really, touching his lips, 'Are we going to this Avalon of yours or not?'
At this the Child Thief smirked back at him, his golden eyes shining brightly in the near-darkness, though not because he felt happy. No, he had to hide his feelings from this boy. How anyone could see such a carnage and not even blink was beyond him. Oh, he wouldn't think twice about it himself, but he was different. He was used to all of this, he chose to do this. And yet the child before him didn't appear bothered by it in the slightest. It was almost enough to scare Peter. But he couldn't show the child that. And so, he smirked.
'Right to the point I see. That's good! Let's go to Avalon!' the Child Thief said, still smiling. But in his heart he worried. Worried about what would happen to the boy when the arrived at Avalon. Worried about what anyone could possibly have done to this child for him to become like this. But Peter was not one to worry about things he couldn't change, nor would he come back on his promise to the child to take him to Avalon. And so, they left.
He was hungry, almost unbearably so. The demon had been watching the boy in his cage for some time now, waiting for this special, this wonderful soul to cry out for help. The boy was his prey, and would already have been his, had it not been for that Half-Human showing up.
He'd heard about him, this Child Thief. And how accurate a name that turned out to be! A boy, neither Human nor Fearie, and yet, at the same time, both. He'd heard stories of other demons' prey being stolen by this very boy. But he hadn't believed it. How could such a creature even exist? Why, in Lucifer's accursed name, would it care about a bunch of abandoned children?
But none of that mattered now. Yes, he had seen the half-boy, had seen that did care for children. It didn't matter. All that mattered was that the boy had lived up to his name as Child Thief and taken his prey, his delicious prey, and that the accursed Halfling wouldregret that fact. Oh, the Halfling would pay, he would make sure of that. He would regret taking his prey, would regret that he had ever entered these dungeons to rescue the boy.
Yes, he had helped the Thief, as well, but that had only been out of curiosity. His curiosity. It had always been his greatest sin, and would probably be the death of him someday. Not that he cared. Eternity becomes very boring very fast, if you have nothing more interesting to do then mate or feed. All the time. It was disgusting really. How other demons could live like that he would never understand. They were like animals, caring about nothing else. Surely demons were better than beasts?
Ah, his curiosity. He had extinguished the lights to confuse the humans and help the Halfling, simply out of curiosity. And now, because of his curiosity -or rather stupidity- his delectable soul was getting away from him, slipping like water from between his fingers. He had been so close, so very close!
But not all was lost yet. He would follow the scent of the halfling and his soul to Avalon. A place supposedly vanished of the face of the earth. And yet the Half-creature claimed it stil existed. How curious. Not that it mattered where that monstrosity took his prey. He would find it, he would find it anywhere and he would make all those who stood in his path pay.
Oh, how the Halfling would regret his actions! He had seen this Child Thief, despite his bravery, shiver -ever so slightly, but still he had seen it- when he extinguished the torches. At least the Thief wasn't entirely stupid. The Halfling had probably felt his presence, somewhere in the darkness and desperation of that windowless room.
The demon moved. He walked out the door, past the bodies and the bodyparts. Past the dead guards the Chield Thief had left is his wake. Out the building, which was now abandoned. Not a soul lived there anymore. The Thief had been thorough. A pity, the demon would have liked to have someone to sate his hunger with. But that could wait. He had more important things to do right now.
The demon followed the scent, through the night, untill he came upon a strange mist, which seemed to swallow the scent. For a moment the demon stood still, pondering his next action. Then he shrugged, and followed the scent of his prey and the Halfling into the Mist.