• “The demon’s name is Bloody Mary. Demon code 118-2B14-Q9Z2. Located at Mercadia’s Well, East Solace Rd. She must be stopped at all costs.”
    Bloody Mary, she was called now…
    Not before…
    “Geez, Merca, could you be any slower?”
    Not before the change.
    Merca – no – Mercadia Ashecroft. Named for the well next to where she lived. Chosen by the Faehunters to combat the demons…
    “Ais, you’re too fast! There’s no way the Change isn’t already accepting you!”
    And rejected the Change, turning into a demon herself.
    “Chill out, Merca, I’ll accept it when you do, like I’m supposed to!”
    The green light of the mission report blinked repeatedly in the darkness, making my eyes water. I was a sewers faehunter…
    What was going on?
    I emerged from a manhole a block away from where I needed to be on East Solace. How ironic, that this would be where it would end.
    “Ais…? What are you doing here?”
    “I live here, Merca. This playground is my home.”
    “You’re coming with me, Ais!”
    “Mercadia, let go of my arm, please.”
    “No! I live a block away, and you’re coming to live with me!”

    I touched my hand to the swingset. Everything was so grey, now.
    Desolate, deserted.
    “Who are you?”
    I swiveled around. This…
    This was not Mercadia Ashecroft.
    “You… you smell… familiar…”
    I tensed. This was… bad.
    Demons were not supposed to remember their pasts.
    “You… go away…!”
    She jumped, and I flipped away. She smiled at me, and I froze. I couldn’t hurt her… She was my best friend, she took me off the streets…
    She saved my life.
    Her arm punctured my armor and reached my ribs. Her pointed nails reached up in my chest cavity and punctured a lung. I could no longer see clearly.
    And suddenly, her clouded eyes cleared and turquoise-murky tears rolled down her cheeks.
    And the world went black.

    “Aislinn, what if I don’t change?”
    “Don’t be stupid, Mercadia.”
    “If you don’t change, I don’t either.”
    ”Eh? What?”
    “Faehunters work in pairs, right? So we work together until we fall in love!”
    “And then, we work with them?”
    “No. We get a lot of joint missions with them and we keep working together.”
    ”You’re weird, Aislinn.”
    “Says you. I’m just an inspired romantic.”