Arya gazed into the mirror, loathing with every fiber of her being what she saw there. At first glance, it was a beautiful young woman, skin fair and smooth, with dark, soft hair tumbling down about her shoulders. The lines of her face, and indeed, her entire body, were graceful and elegant, a perfect specimen of feminine beauty. What upset Arya was her eyes. They were a deep, unnatural red, almost the color of fire. She had been to every witch in the kingdom, but none of them could change it, or even hide it. The mark of a demon, it seemed, could not be hidden.
She sighed and turned away from the mirror, wrapping her cloak around her. Going out was always an ordeal; her eyes told people exactly what she was, and most of them tried to avoid her like the plague. The merchants overcharged her, since they wouldn’t tolerate her presence long enough for the usual haggling.
The door swung open easily at her touch, and she stepped out onto the street. She kept her eyes downcast and her cloak pulled close around her, trying to hide her face. Sometimes, though, she had to look up. You couldn’t deal with a vendor without looking at him. When she did so, she saw, floating above their head, their true name… and how and when they would die.
That was the ‘gift’ the demon had given her. It was more like a curse. She hadn’t asked for it, hadn’t wanted it. He had forced it upon her. His only explanation had been, “Ask your father.”
Her father was dead. Gone off to war, almost five years ago now, though it had only been one year when the demon had come to her. As though thinking of him summoned him, Arya saw the tall, hooded figure approaching her across the marketplace. She tried not to react to it; as the only one who could see him, it made her look crazy or possessed when she talked to him. Finishing the sale she was in the middle of, she picked up her groceries and walked out of the market, quickly, but trying to act casual.
When she rounded a corner, she set the groceries down, turned, and glared at the demon. “What do you want?”
“Why do you always assume I want something from you?” The demon bared its large teeth in an unconvincing innocent grin. “Maybe I just enjoy your company.”
“And maybe you just enjoy making the entire village hate me. What do you want?”
“You wound me, Arya. But as it happens, there is a little something you can do for me.”
“Of course.” Arya sighed. “What is it this time? Arson? Theft?”
She gasped and took a step back. “Never.”
“You cannot refuse me, Arya. You never could. You never will.”
Arya closed her eyes, turning away from him and pressing into the wall, as though she could make the demon go away by refusing to acknowledge his presence. “Leave me alone.”
A clawed hand grabbed her shoulder, almost painful in its powerful grip, but then she heard the demon gasp and release her. She slowly looked up; nothing had that effect on him.
“Back off, demon.” A man in a white cloak stood a few feet away, his eyes a bright gold, as alien as her red ones. Behind him, there was a magnificent being, shining, with wings that must have been twenty feet from tip to tip.
The demon hissed, slowly moving away. The angel strode forward, a sword of pure light forming in his hand.
What happened next was too fast for mortal eyes to follow, but it ended with the demon howling in pain as he shattered into wisps of smoke.
Arya stared in disbelief. She felt free. The demon was destroyed. She looked up at the man to thank him.. and saw his name and his death spelled out over his head. She still had the eyes. She was still cursed.
She muttered a thank you, ignored his offers of help, scooped up her groceries, and went home. Odds were, another demon would claim her. Being cursed, she had no hope. She looked in the mirror again, cursing her demon eyes.