He approached as if he knew her, but indeed, they had never met. “Little seraph bereft of flight…” he crooned, “Fleeing into a dark moonlight. Sapped by lambs who bleat drunk lies: of tipsy, blank faces tempted towards bedsides… ah, but a smart one she is! A little Mary affright by her flock.”

     The obfuscated light of evening toyed on his face like the sun glinting off knives, revealing a glimpse of devastating, sharp features and an arresting gaze that captivated her with ease. A cape of lustrous dark wings lay draped upon his shoulders, and Eislyn feared them: feared their beauty and their immortal allusion. “Are you… a seraph?”

     “A curious vesper, but sadly she errs. The seraphs spawn from deities.”

     An aberrant glint in his eyes made her wary, but she felt ensnared by his presence, his ethereal newness. “We all came from deities.”

     “Ah, but no—only those the Gods favor can ascend.” His eyes were like black ice—the kind that lives hidden beneath fresh snow—and he loomed over her like an ominous dark cloud. “And the ascendant has only one seraph.”

     Eislyn’s face was like a bright moon sequestered beneath him, lost and searching for answers. He circled her in calculated, slow steps; long fingers brushed her arm, tested her cheek. Her heart quickened like alerted prey, yet she did not pull from his touch, and his eyes drank deeply of her until she felt drained by the tension between them. A ball grew and hung heavy in her throat. “…is there something you need from me?”

     A smile sliced his bowed lips. He opened an arm to her. “Come.”

     They were silent for a long while. There was a poised stillness about him that unnerved her.  At last she said, “I don’t know you.”

     He advanced suddenly, swooping quicker than she could imagine, and she cowered and curled as he pulled her into his arms so that she lay caged against him in shock. He smelled musty: of moss, dirt and forest rot. He pressed his lips near her quivering mouth. “My little seraph… how tremulous you are.”

     “Who are you…” Her voice struggled for life, whispery like a candle flame. She dared to look, saw an affirming teal shade in his hair and porcelain skin as uncommon as prayer in the city. She trembled at the idea. However tightly he held to soothe her, it failed to ease the desire she had to collapse at the closeness—and the reality—of him.

     He teased his fingers along her jaw, snaked them up along her cheek, and through ebony hair as dark as his own. His answer chilled her in the prison of his arms.

     “Your father.”