In times like these, she wondered whether the Fates had it out for her.
The villagers had spoken of such a creature, whispered its presence into ears of misbehaving children and conversed in hushed tones throughout stories around the campfire. A powerful being that roamed the streets at dark, searching for someone, anyone, caught unawares, to become his next prey. His hair, elders proclaimed, was drenched with the blood of his victims, a dull crimson easily blending in the midst of shadows; his eyes, eerily amber, held nothing but joy as he hacked away at the endless rows of bodies with his stained sword.
They couldn't be more wrong.
Sure, he was dangerous, but he was also handsome. There was a grace and beauty she found while watching him move through the mass of limbs and blades, cutting down every one of them with a single slash aimed at the person's midriff or neck. Each strand shimmered like starlight, a fiery scarlet that lit up even the darkest ebony skies. The passion that gripped his eyes wasn't one of hunger, lust or fury, but rather fueled by a blazing ire, a determination mothers were wont to have protecting their young from harm, fierce and frightening.
She should have been scared, by all rights. She should have been absolutely terrified, sitting there in the clearing, bound and gagged, watching her predestined lover massacre a hoard of thugs who'd dared try claiming her for their own. Certainly a normal human would.
But she wasn't an ordinary woman. She was a sacrifice, willingly given to the gods by the people as appeasement. To Hell be damned the townsfolk…They'd been nothing but eager to offer her as payment.
And still, when he finished with his deed, effortlessly stepping over the mutilated remains of ignorant mortals towards her, gathering her form-still tied up- into his arms, crooning soft words of ownership and dominance into her ear, his magic wrapping possessively around her frame, she couldn't help but feel safe.