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[personal profile] kristyjnh in [community profile] witchy_writers
 Love Lost
 
They took down another group, barely breaking a sweat.
 
Leo and Ayura were a two-man demon annihilation team, having now killed hundreds of demons between them. It felt good. It felt like they were making a difference. And so, riding that high, neither of them noticed in time. The portal opened beneath their feet, clawed hands grasped their ankles, and the pair was pulled down to the depths of hell before they could even react.
 
 
Leo awoke first, chained to a stone wall in what felt like a castle dungeon, Ayura chained next to him. Before them stood a demon. Not surprising, given what had happened to them. The demon before them appeared to be male, making him an older or stronger demon than what they usually encountered. Ayura stirred next to him. Without taking his eyes from the beast before them he whispered, "Ayura. Ayura! Wake up."
 
Ayura's eyes opened, giving him a sidelong glance. "They got us, huh?" She said.
 
"Indeed girl. We have you." The demon replied for Leo.
 
Leo glared at him. "You shouldn't be able to take humans from the Living Realm. What are you doing?"
 
"As with anything, there are exceptions to the rules." He paced in front of them, relishing his position over them. "For instance, for individuals who tip the Heaven-Hell balance in favor of one side or another. You may remember the Priest, Grant Troy? He was one such. He destroyed so many of us that we were granted cosmic permission to take him and subvert him, to tip the scales back in our balance. And so it is with you two." Leo swallowed hard. He didn't like where this was going. "Together, you have killed enough of us for the scale to take notice. We've been granted permission to turn one of you to even the scale. Now, Father Troy was rescued before he could turn all the way, so we're taking a different approach with you." He pulled out a glowing red sphere, approximately the size of a marble. "Contained within this is a spell which I found, locked away in an ancient tome in one of our deepest caverns. One of you WILL be a demon before the night is out." He smiled darkly. "Out of kindness, I'll let you decide between the two of you who will be turned and who we'll return to the surface." He stepped back against a wall. "You have ten minutes."
 
 
Leo glanced at Ayura, fear gripping him. Her eyes locked with his, her brow creased with worry, her eyes reflecting the same fear he felt. There was no way out of this. They both knew it. No rescue would come in time and there was no escaping the bonds, much less fighting their way out. One of them would not go home. Ayura spoke first. "Leo..." She closed her eyes, taking a breath. "Leo. I have to-"
 
"No!" Leo interrupted. "After everything you've been through, I can hardly leave you here to endure yet another nightmare. I am a Templar. This is part of the battle my family has fought for 800 years. It should be me."
 
Ayura shook her head. "No. If not for me you never would have ended up here. It's my responsibility. Not only that-"
 
He cut her off again. "You always do this. You can't take everything on all the time. It's not your responsibility. I made the choices too."
 
"Leo, try to understand. It has to be me."
 
"No. Ayura, I love you. Let me protect you."
 
Ayura grit her teeth. "This isn't about protecting! Don't you see!" The chains rattled as she punctuated her words with her arms. "Don't you get it! I can't survive it a second time!" Tears tumbled down her cheeks. "Don't you get it? I love you too. I do. But I can't lose you like I lost him." Her voice trembled. "I wouldn't survive it. I'm not strong enough."
 
Leo stared at her, feeling tears spring down his own face. He looked into her eyes, wishing he could take her in his arms and escape this nightmare. "I don't think I'm strong enough either." He whispered. "I can't just go back up there and live without you. How am I supposed to live a life that you aren't there for?"
 
"I survived it once. You can too. You're strong Leo. Stronger than you know." She reached for his hand, just trying to touch him. "Promise me that you'll live. Promise me that you'll have a life." She hiccuped a little. "It doesn't have to be right away. But don't let me hold you back forever."
 
"Ayura. Ayura." He just spoke her name, over and over again, not sure what else to say.
 
 The demon came forward. "Have you decided?"
 
Ayura nodded. "It will be me."
 
The demon dropped the marble into her hand. "Then it will be you."
 
_____________________
 
Alternate ending! Leo becomes the demon. One day I'll write it.
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