She had red hair. Not ginger, but blood red. Wine red.
Nobody had seen anything like it, and her relatives used to joke that she was the spawn of the devil.
They named her Ember.
As she grew, she seemed ordinary, harmless enough. Her parents knew different, though they kept it secret.
They wanted a normal little girl, not one that played with the kitchen knives, and cut off her doll’s heads.
When she was thirteen, she discovered makeup. From that day on, she powdered her face white, inked black circles around her eyes, and painted red tears on her cheeks. All the kids at her school were terrified of her.
But our story begins two years after that.
Five days after her fifteenth birthday, she was wandering the streets. It was three in the morning, and her mind wouldn’t shut up. Walking always made her feel better, so she snuck out. Her mask was painted on her face, hiding the real tears that mingled with her painted ones.
She stopped to look up at the stars. There were strange clouds that night, and they parted, almost as if they were showing her the universe.
When she looked back at the street, there was a figure leaning against the nearest lamppost. Neither particularly male, nor female, it was more a creature than a human. She could see the outline of curved horns.
She wasn’t afraid, and as she got closer, she saw scales glinting on clawed hands.
A curious smile appeared on her face, hidden beneath her hoodie. Her fingers reached for the knife in her pocket.
Better safe than sorry.
“There’s no need for that.”
The figure spoke with a husky voice, as if its lungs were filled with smoke. It turned, revealing a grin that could only be described as devilish. The teeth were sharply pointed, and bright white.
“I’ll be the judge of that, thank you.” She drew her knife, and held it by her side. A warning.
“I have a proposition for you.” It drew a shape in the air, and an unlit match materialised, pinched between its thumb and forefinger.
Ember raised an eyebrow.
“This,” it chuckled, “is a match made in heaven.”
To be continued…