• Azelle smiled and looked up at the star-filled sky as the handsome young man sitting beside her gently took her hand. The night was beautiful and clear, though rather cold. Beautiful waltzing music drifted from inside the ballroom. Azelle fixed her white dress and adjusted her mask. The masquerade taking place at the castle was going quite well. Azelle had already found three young men. This one was number four.
    Azelle turned to him and smiled beautifully. She was inhumanly beautiful. Someone as beautiful as her couldn’t exist without being something terrible.
    The young man rubbed her arms and held her close. Azelle grimaced when he wasn’t looking. She hated the smell and the touch of humans.
    “Such a beautiful ball.” The man whispered to himself.
    “Yes, it is.”
    Azelle’s voice sounded perfect and fleeting, like wind chimes. The man sitting beside her cupped her face in his hand and leaned toward her face. Azelle smiled just before his lips touched hers. This was what she had been waiting for. The second his mouth was upon hers, Azelle breathed in deeply through her mouth, sucking the life out of her victim. His eyes widened and he struggled to get away from her, but she wouldn’t let him go. Finally, with one last quick shudder, it was all over. Azelle pulled away grinning.
    “That went well.” She whispered.
    She watched the body as a gust of wind blew and it seemed to dissolve into the air. Azelle stood and turned to go back through the doors to the ball. The smell of perfume and food was overwhelming at first, then her quick demon senses adapted and she was fine again. Her golden eyes scanned the room, scoping out another victim.
    She heard someone come up next to her. Another good-looking young man around the age of twenty, with blonde hair and beautiful skin walked up next to her. Perfect.
    “Would you like to dance?”
    She bowed her head and allowed him to take her hand. Immediately, her senses flared. He was an enemy. She hissed under her breath out of instinct. She quickly tried to draw her hand away, but he held her fast. He pulled her into a waltzing position and put his hand on her waist. He held her long black hair and began to sway her, smirking at her confused expression.
    “Yes, I am what you think I am.”
    She grimaced.
    “A demon hunter…”
    “Yes. Sent by the king himself. He wasn’t very happy when you killed his son.”
    Azelle looked at the hunters chest. How could this have happened? How had her senses not warned her? She studied his face, trying to see if she could recognize him, but he was wearing a mask like everyone else in the ballroom was.
    “I am here to destroy the likes of you. This waltz shall be your last.”
    Azelle felt a sharp object move up her stomach and up to her chest. The sharp edge of a knife was resting on her soft, delicate skin. The handle was on his chest. He pulled her closer. The knife dug in and she yelped. People were starting to look. Azelle lunged for his mouth, but he held her back. Tears sprung into her eyes and she shook her head, glaring at his chest.
    “You are beautiful though. It’s almost a pity I have to kill you.”
    He pulled her right against him then. The dagger pierced through her heart.
    “Ah…” she whimpered.
    She stopped waltzing. He smirked.
    “It’ll all be over soon.”
    She closed her eyes and coughed in pain, bringing up blood onto his white silk shirt. She gripped him tighter. Never had she felt such pain. Her breathing became shallow and the room began to spin. She touched her finger to her forehead and looked into his eyes, struggling to stay alive.
    “Sss…” she tried to speak.
    He almost looked sympathetic. Azelle could feel her heart trying to pump around the dagger. She could almost feel it bleed. She looked down at her white dress now stained with red, like a blooming flower. How was no one noticing this? Maybe they already knew. She looked up at him again, feeling herself slipping away.
    “Sorry…” she whispered.
    The hunter stroked her cheek as she collapsed into his arms. She looked up at him, eyes half-closed.
    “Sss…” she tried to say it again.
    She drew one last shuddering breath. In another moment she was dead. The man whispered an incantation and her body began to disintegrate into the air. In her place, a red rose lay. The knife clattered to the floor beside it. The hunter froze and stared at the rose in disbelief. A demon’s body just turned to black dust. Why had she turned to a rose like the remains of an angel?