“Ugh!” Cole grunted as he regained
consciousness. Had his head been hit by a freight
train? Sure felt like it. Blurred vision, ringing ears,
and numbness all wracked his body. Questions
crept into his awareness.
Am I dead?
He lay on his back. The darkness above him
came slowly into focus. He was staring at a clear
night sky; the stars and moon shone brightly.
When the ringing in his ears faded, he could hear
the peaceful sounds of crickets and owls in the
Cole’s leg muscles stopped twitching. He found
the strength to stand, and took in his
surroundings. He was outside in a small clearing
of knee-high grass illuminated by moonlight. A
gentle breeze swept across the plains and kissed
Where am I?
With no knowledge of where he was or how he
got to his current location, Cole tried to figure out
what to do. “Keep going in one direction,” he
thought. “Bound to run into something or
Trees surrounded Cole in the near distance,
broken only by a gap under the brightly burnished
full moon. “I’ll just get lost if I wander through
the woods at night.” He chose his direction and
began his journey into the unknown night.
He walked on shaky legs for what seemed like
forever through the grassy field until a faint sound
stopped him in his tracks. He listened closely; it
was a woman’s voice, humming or singing.
Why would someone be singing out here in the
middle of nowhere? No matter; at least this
person could tell him where he was.
Cole followed the sound. The angelic voice gained
audibility as he pressed onward. He came to a
small forest grove that blocked his path toward
the voice. Knowing the risks, he moved into the
It was completely dark. Cole reached out, careful
to not let a branch smack his face. All he had to
guide him was the light voice. The creepy stirring
of trees and howling of nearby wolves unnerved
him. He quickened his pace.
He saw a faint light through the thick forest. The
voice becoming louder with every step. His
resolve tightened as he hoped for a way out of
this mess; he pressed brusquely through the
As Cole pushed the final branch out of his way,
he focused his eyes on the source of the
mesmerizing voice. It was indeed a woman,
humming with her back turned towards him. Her
long blonde hair and light blue dress blew gently
in the midnight breeze.
“Hello?” Cole called out.
She gave no response but continued her
enchanting melody. Cole approached the woman
slowly, careful not to startle her.
“Excuse me. I seem to be lost. Could you tell me
where I am?”
Again, no response. Was she deaf? No, that
cannot be. A deaf person does not sing so
“Hello?” Cole spoke louder as he reached his
hand out to touch her shoulder. Shock
overwhelmed him as his hand passed through her
body as if he were a ghost.
“What the hell?!”
Cole looked ahead. A cliff with jagged rocks fell
just a few feet before them, offering quite a view
of the moonlit countryside. He looked down the
steep ledge and saw a primitive-looking village of
decent size. The settlement looked quiet but not
abandoned, apparent from lit torches and small
Turning back around, Cole eyes widened as he
looked at the woman with the mesmerizing voice.
He instantly recognized those facial features.
She was different, however. Her raven colored
hair was now blonde. Her eyes were a bright blue
that sparkled in the moonlight. Her figure
remained otherwise unchanged, as far as he could
tell. Her attire was very modest, covering most of
her body, much unlike the Zafira he knew.
“Where are we?” Cole asked.
The sound of a galloping horse approaching
behind her diverted her attention. Atop the horse
was a young-looking dark-haired man wearing
chain mail and red-accented clothing.
“Simon!” she shouted, rushing to greet him.
“Rosa!” the man said as he hopped off his horse
and held her in his arms. They held each other in
a tight lover’s embrace.
Rosa? Was that Zafira’s real name? Or was she
someone else? Cole had been confused the
moment he awakened. Things made less and less
sense the longer he stayed here, wherever here
He had to think. “You’re a detective, figure it out!”
he told himself. Obviously, he was not in Chicago
anymore, nor did he believe even the same time
period. As absurd as it sounded, he wondered if
Zafira sent him back in time. Then why does no
one notice him? There must be more it.
“I’m so glad you’re safe!” Rosa said, leaning her
head against Simon’s chest.
“I wish I could say the same for Christoph,” he
Rosa looked into Simon’s eyes. She could see the
pain he hid behind them. “Did you find him?”
A tear escaped his sorrowful eyes. “We tracked
him to an abandoned church just over the
horizon. The fool knew demons were hiding there!
I told him not to go alone! We found his body in
pieces, his head impaled on a spear.”
Cole then noticed the small cross branded on the
side of Simon’s neck. He was a Crusader. No
wonder he knew of demons. Zafira once said their
order was old, spanning many centuries.
Apparently, she was not mistaken.
“I’m so sorry!” Rosa said, trying to comfort him.
“Your brother was a good man.”
“He was always trying to prove he was better
than me, especially since we were twins. We
sparred all the time, training ourselves to the
limit. It’s how he got that scar across his left
eye. I swung my sword too fast and it grazed
him. I felt so bad about it, but his vision turned
out to be fine. He shrugged the incident off, said
the scar served as a reminder to always train
There was a long period of silence. Rosa held her
lover tightly in her arms, loathing to let him go. “I
was worried you wouldn’t return. I don’t know
what I’d do if I ever lost you.”
Simon lifted her chin. “Do not worry. We will be
married soon and I will take you far away from
these tainted lands. I’ll always be there to protect
you. I love you, Rosa, with every fiber of my
Cole watched on as the two lovers engaged in a
slow passionate kiss. He could tell it was pure
genuine love by the fiery look in their eyes and
the hunger behind their lips.
Rosa… Just who was she? Her resemblance to
Zafira could not be purely coincidental. He was
drawn here by her voice, as if someone or some
thing intended for him to see this.
The three of them jumped when a loud boom
shook the very ground they stood on. Simon held
Rosa close with one arm, his other ready to draw
his sword. Another earth shattering boom
sounded seconds later, striking fear in their
Simon and Rosa peered over the edge of the cliff.
“The village!” Rosa screamed.
Cole looked down. The quaint village below was
no longer silent, stirred by the fire that engulfed
several homes. Boom blared again as a flimsy
shelter exploded, sending fiery debris through the
“The demons!” Simon shouted. “They must have
followed us back to the village!”
Simon quickly mounted his horse. Rosa cried,
“Simon! What are you doing?!”
“Whatever I can! Stay here Rosa, it is far too
dangerous elsewhere. I’ll come back here after we
drive them off.”
Rosa’s face was full of worry. She knew she
would not be able to stop him, no matter how
much she begged. “Please be careful, Simon!”
Simon nodded. With a loud “Yah!” and a stinging
of spurred heels, the horse took off like greased
lightning. Rosa watched him vanish down the
small path and out of her sight.
She turned towards the cliff edge and fearfully
tried to discern what was happening below. The
village was ablaze with smoke thick enough to
obstruct her view. She paced nervously, uncertain
of what to do.
That was when Cole’s brain sparked with
realization. He had seen this exact scene once
before. The painting in Zafira’s lair that seemed
suspiciously out of place. This was not some trip
back in time, or a random dream. This was
Zafira’s memories. She must have wanted him to
see this. But, why?
Rosa was unable to stand idle any longer. She
sprinted down the path after Simon. “Wait!” Cole
shouted, running after her. She ran as fast as she
could, dodging tree limbs, jumping down stairs of
rocks. Cole struggled to keep up. She obviously
knew this path like the back of her hand.
They reached the bottom. The village was only a
short distance ahead. As Cole chased after Rosa
he could hear the screaming of the villagers and
the roaring of the fire. Amongst the chaos was
also the clanging clatter of steel hitting steel; a
great battle was taking place.
With no regard for danger at hand, Rosa dashed
past the burning front gates. Cole chased after
her but lost sight of her form as he chased her
into the burning maelstrom. Everywhere he looked
was either engulfed in flames or blocked by
soldiers battling fearsome winged demons.
Winged demons that resembled Zafira.
Even though the soldiers appeared to have
greater numbers, they were no match for the
powerful succubi who easily controlled their
minds, forcing them to fight against each other.
To Be Continued