The first thing I became aware of was the blinding white lights that surrounded me. Not some distant glow like I'd always envisioned, but actual floating lights. I was laying on my bare back on a floor that seemed to be made of ice, or glass. A smile came across my face as I reached up to try touch one of the crystals. I'd never felt so free, so happy, so light.
The sound of footsteps distracted me from my quest to capture the starlike orbs. Blinking away the dizzy disallusion in my mind, I pushed myself up to my feet and glanced around. At first I saw nothing, but then the form of the woman from the meadow came into view.
"Welcome to Ether, Elyse" she greeted me warmly. I returned her smile.
"What is this place?" I asked her.
"It's a resting place for spirits," she replied gently. "You have been wearied by the human world, and now you have been sent here."
Suddenly it all began flooding bac, flickering images of the demon and the blood and Ian's warm body pressed against my own and the screams of pleasure that had rang out from the hotel room all night. "I'm dead," I realized. "That demon killed me."
The woman cocked her head. "You are one of us, Elyse. You cannot die."
I frowned, but before I could ask anymore, the lights began to gather around me and spin wildly, creating a sort of glowing protection. "You must bring an end to Keenan," she told me. "Help the sons of chaos. Bring an end to this destruction. Only then can you rest in peace."
And in a flash of blindingly white light, I was gone.
When I reopened my eyes, I found myself in a dark, damp room. Somewhere, there was an echo of shouts and cheers. "Kill him, you bastard! Tear his heart out!"
Squinting, I followed the sounds until I emerged into a bigger room filled with bodies pressed against each other, surrounding a large cage in the center. By now my eyes had gone wide. Because in the cage was none other than Alex.
I watched him as he continuously punched the other man in the face, throwing him down and beating him mercilessly. When at last it appeared the second man was unable to get back up, the crowds all burst into cheer and Alex left the arena.
I pushed my way through the crowds to follow him into a back room. When I closed the door, it appeared to be empty. I turned the lock and flicked on the lights.
Immediatly Alex spun around, letting out a gasp of shock. It quickly rose to an actual scream. "Who the fuck are you?" he demanded.
I couldnt help but drop my jaw. "Alex. You're supposed to be dead."
He shrugged. "Funny how that shit works out. Now, who are you and what do you want?"
"Alex, it's me. Elyse."
Something changed in his face just then. Some sort of sadness came over it. "You're not Elyse," he murmured. "Elyse is dead."
"I know it sounds crazy, Alex. But you have to believe me."
Alex stumbled backward away from me. "You are not her!"
I wanted to protest again, but something caught my eye: a mirror. With my reflection portrayed. And I could see there why he was so shocked. In place of my tangled black hair was sleek tresses of platinum blonde. I was still bearing the glow, but it seemed much brighter. And on my back was a set of full white wings.