“Deal With the Devil” by Rachel Brooks

She was on her knees in a temple to the heathen god of her people’s enemies. Shipwrecked on a foreign shore, chased off by those she begged for help, and alone with a man she had known since childhood who was dying in her arms. She knelt before the altar, a series of stone steps beneath an intricate steel and glass window. It was dark and cold, and roots grew through the cracks in the walls, but the statue of the god was as pristine as the day it was made.


“Save him!” she screamed, throwing herself over her fiancé.  She looked up at the dais with swollen red eyes and wept as she prayed. “Please, please, please save him!”


The eyes of the statue of the heathen god glowed and she gasped, yanking the limp body of the man whose ring she wore into her lap.


“Please!” she screamed again. “Please save him!”


The entire statue glowed with a dark aura, his horns, his wings, and his claws all shimmering as if made of silver and not stone like the rest of his body.


Encouraged, she continued her petitions. “I’ll do anything! Just save him!”


“Anything?” a harsh voice mocked. “You would do anything?” The statue seemed to crack, and stone fell off like a second skin to reveal a flesh body. Standing proudly upon the altar, wings and horns and all, was the heathen god. A demon creature covered in markings, with glowing yellow eyes and spiked black hair. He crossed his arms and sneered down at the pleading girl at his feet. “What would you do?”


Her breath caught in her throat as she looked up at the god, her jaw dropping as she took in his features. “I-I-“ she stuttered, unable to decide upon a reasonable sacrifice.


He smirked and crossed his arms. “He must not mean much to you.”


She sniffed, looking down at the ever paler boy she cradled, his shirt torn open from when she had listened for his heart, which beat ever more slowly. “He… he needs to live…”


The god frowned and narrowed his eyes. “And what would you do?”


She looked up at him, her tear streaked cheeks growing pink as she fought out the words, “I would do anything.”


He smirked and sat down on the stone steps. The boy disappeared from her lap and appeared at the god’s feet. Bending, he scooped up the boy’s head, never looking away from the girl and her desperate eyes. She whimpered, falling onto her hands and knees as she watched the god, whose fierce yellow eyes glowed brightly.


“He will live.” The god decided. The girl smiled, opening her mouth to thank the god, but he interrupted her. “And you will pay for this gift.”


She nodded hurriedly, crawling to the altar and putting her hands on the bottom level. “Anything!”


The god smirked, leaning the unconscious boy against one knee as he put his other leg over the boy, as if to claim him. “Yes.” He agreed.


The girl hesitated in her glee, but then smiled tightly and nodded.


The god smiled and fluttered his wings, his eyes flashing and then returning to normal. The boy in his lap coughed suddenly, color returning to his cheeks.


The girl smiled brightly and stood, wiping her eyes and moving as if to step toward the two men. But she felt suddenly faint. Her eyes fluttered shut as she stumbled and fell. Just as her head was about to strike the hard ground, she lost consciousness. When she woke, it was she who lay in the god’s arms, with one of his legs holding her up and the other pinning her down. He was smirking down at her. She frowned and tried to sit up. He helped her, a hand at the nape of her neck.


She looked around, putting a hand to her head. “What happened?” She gasped when she saw her fiancé lying at the base of the dais, where she had been praying a moment before. She pulled away from the god and rushed down.


The boy looked healthier, the color returned to his cheeks and his chest raising the right amount for a proper breath. She smiled and reached for him, but the god’s voice stopped her.


“You should leave him be, he is very nearly well.”


She obeyed, sitting on the bottom step of the altar. She turned to look up at the god, who was standing with his arms crossed.


“Thank you.” She said gently.


He raised his chin and tilted his head, fluttering his wings. His eyes flashed for a moment and she frowned, turning to look back at her fiancé. He was sitting up and looking around. She screamed, running to him and trying to embrace him, but she passed right through him. “What did you do?” she wailed, throwing herself at her fiancé again and again, though he seemed not to notice. When she turned to the god, who had not answered, he was smirking.


“I thought you said you would do anything.” He said mockingly.


She paled, putting a hand to her head. She turned and watched her fiancé stumble out of the temple. She fell to her knees and watched, helpless. She hung her head and closed her eyes, whispering, “What did you do?”


He frowned and walked down towards her, “I saved him, and in return, you would do anything.”


She turned to him with a terrified expression, looking up at him as he came to tower over her, his broad shoulders and massive wings blocking out most of the light.


He smirked and held out a clawed hand. She whimpered, looking at the hand as if it were a snake.


He squatted in front of her and reached for her hand, taking it gently. With his other hand, he brushed her hair back, then took her chin in his fingers and lifted her eyes to his. “I asked what you would do.” He reminded her, pulling her to her feet. “And you said anything.”


She nodded weakly, her eyes drawn to his. “But what did you do?”


He bent toward her and closed his wings around the two of them. His eyes seemed to glow brighter in the dark of his feathered enclosure. He bent his head to hers and whispered against her lips, “Your anything… was everything.”


She gasped as he pressed his lips to hers, kissing her gently. She did not kiss him back, but did not pull away. When he did, she was looking up to him with teary eyes. “Am I dead?”


He smiled and stroked her cheek, shaking his head. He stepped back from her and waved toward her body.


She looked down and noticed no change. She shrugged, but the action made her aware of a new weight. She turned in a circle, struggling to see the two massive black wings that sprouted from her shoulder blades. She turned back to the heathen god with wide eyes. “What have you done?”


He laughed and shook his head, looking to her head. She frowned and reached up, gasping when she felt the two horns that grew there.


He smiled at her reaction and tilted his head. “My worshippers will be delighted.”


She looked up to him with a frown. “About what?”


He smiled, using one of his wings to pull her to himself. “About their new goddess.”