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Ruth’s heart is racing and she awakens with a jolt. She groans, not yet another nightmare! They keep coming regularly since the night when she nearly drowned in the Lake of Truth, the same night she tried to kill Livia. Ruth sits up in bed, staring into the darkness. She’s awake now, but the deep-seated fear remains, and her heart is still pounding frantically. She’s tempted to call for her brother Will, whose flat she’s been staying in ever since, but all of a sudden she notices a movement at the window. Her breath hitches and she freezes. In this moment the moon appears from behind the clouds and illuminates the man coming towards her. She blinks, obviously she’s still dreaming. He simply can’t be here, it’s absolutely impossible. “Fergus!” Ruth whispers and touches her throat, unable to breathe anymore. The man is standing over her bed now, his dark blue eyes watching her closely, his face inert. “It can’t be you, you’re dead”, she moans, pressing back against the wall. She’d seen him lying in a pool of his own blood fifty-six years ago, the man she’d loved. The man who’d betrayed her. The man she’d murdered. And now here he is standing in front of her.

He sits down on the bed beside her, a disdainful smile curling his lips. “Poor gullible Ruth,” he murmurs in his velvety voice, leaning towards her. She recognises his scent and her heart is beating so fast that it will surely explode any second. But his presence here doesn’t add up and she gasps in fright.


“Why are you able to see me? How did you get in?” Ruth is an Arash, an immortal descendant of the stars, and no human is able to see her without her permitting it. Fergus throws his head back and laughs mockingly.

“You still don’t understand, do you? Ruth, make an educated guess, after all, you’re not stupid.” Ruth shakes her head, refusing to admit the truth. Obviously she knows what it means that he can see her. And it would explain the fact that he’s alive, too, but she’s still in denial. Fergus is watching her, reading her face. “Well done, I’m an Arash, just like you are,” he grins, revealing beautiful white teeth. “I’ve been one for a long time, you know, that’s why you couldn’t kill me, as you were still human then.” Ruth starts to shake. All these years she’d thought she was a murderer. Not only had Fergus betrayed her, in addition he’d feigned his own death. Ruth feels unfathomable hatred and icy cold gathering inside her, but Fergus grasps her wrists and pins her to the wall. “Don’t even think about attacking me,” he hisses through clenched teeth. “You’re a Dark Arash, a bad one, but I know you too well, you can’t take me by surprise. In any case I have means you wouldn’t dream of!”  The man’s dark blue eyes are narrowed, his mouth twisted in a snarl.  Ruth cowers under the duvet, very aware that she is only wearing a flimsy nightdress. Her almost black eyes search the man’s handsome face.

“But why?” she breathes, not understanding what had happened at that time. “Why did you pretend to be dead?” Fergus smiles, clearly enjoying himself.

“It’s a long story. My family had received the sign to look for a new family member. You know how complicated the selection process is, being an Arash yourself now.  Then I met you and instantly I knew that you were made for us.” Ruth stares at him, mesmerised. She didn’t have a clue then. “You had all the right prerequisites, born under the comet Ponns-Winnecke,” Fergus continues. “We would really have loved to have you in the family.” Ruth can’t believe it. Another Arash family had wanted her to join them? Even before Randolph had found her, whose family she belongs to now? Incredible! But something must have gone very wrong. Fergus sighs heavily. “But then we found out the dreadful truth: you were born on the day of an eclipse of the sun.” Ruth winces at his harsh words. Her birthday, 27th June 1927 makes her a Dark Arash, not a Bright one, meaning she has special powers, dark forces, in her case an icy cold that can destroy humans as well as other Arash. But Randolph never ever called a Dark Arash a bad one. Ruth feels hot anger rising within her.

“So you rejected me because I’m Dark? At any rate I was good enough for Randolph and his family,” she hisses furiously. Fergus smirks at her.

“Yes, what a coincidence that you had your accident on Randolph’s premises and he found you, wasn’t it?” He raises his hand when Ruth tries to interrupt him. “Listen, you stupid bitch! It wasn’t a coincidence at all. After we’d found out that you were born during an eclipse of the sun you were definitely out of the question for our family. We would never tolerate a Dark Arash in our family!  But then I had a brilliant idea. We knew that Randolph was also looking for a new family member at that time, we always know what he’s up to. As he’d admitted a Dark Arash into his family before, this Cassius, he’d surely do the same again.” Fergus grins maliciously, running his hand through his blonde hair. “So I decided to plant you there.” Ruth shakes her head in disbelief, staring at this man she’d once loved whom she doesn’t recognise anymore. “It was quite easy: being a tremendously jealous person you were very predictable. I knew if you caught me with another woman you would freak out. By the way, it was Philomena, the head of our family, a wonderful actress, who posed as my lover.” Ruth feels the blood drain from her face. She simply can’t believe that he set her up. “We set the stage on Randolph’s land and the knife I laid out came in handy too, you used it, as I suspected you would. Then you sped away in your car, had the accident. The shadow which caused it was also me, by the way. But then you nearly ruined everything.” He pulls a face at Ruth who is sitting motionless, shaken to the core. “You drove much too fast and the accident was more serious than we’d planned. Who would have thought that the car would explode!” Ruth starts to tremble uncontrollably at his words, reliving the terror of that night. “But we were lucky, Randolph rescued you just in time, otherwise my brilliant plan would have been in vain. He took you in, cared for you and finally made you part of his family. Everything turned out just perfect!” Fergus shakes his blonde hair, smiling at the speechless girl. He’s extremely handsome but she only sees the monster sitting in front of her. Her heart has frozen over and she’s barely able to think clearly.

“But why did you plant me?” she asks in a low voice. Why did he put her through this hell? Fergus looks at her carefully, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

“You’re just as beautiful now as you were when we were together,” he whispers distractedly. Then he raises his eyebrows. “Why? To watch Randolph, of course. What he’s doing, who he’s meeting, if there’s anything strange in his demeanour.  And report back to us.” Ruth huffs angrily. Why should she spy on the man who had saved her life, taken her in and kept her in the family even now, despite her attack on Livia? She owed everything to him and would never tell on him. What’s more she still hasn’t a clue what Fergus is aiming at.

“But what’s the point?” Fergus narrows his eyes which are now blazing with blue fire.

“Because we hate him!” he hisses with such venom that Ruth shrinks back. “Randolph was a member of our family, Philomena changed him into an Arash a long time ago. But he wasn’t worthy of being with us and we cast him out. Now we’re only trying to prevent him causing any more damage than he’s already done.” This is only part of the truth, Ruth mustn’t know the rest. It would only strengthen her loyalty to Randolph.

“He was one of your family?” Ruth gasps. She senses that Fergus is holding something back and is determined to learn the whole truth. “Why did you make him an outcast?” Fergus takes Ruth’s hand in his and squeezes it till she winces in pain.

“You ask too many questions, Ruth. Your only task is to report back to me.” Ruth bites her lower lip, knowing she has to buy some time. She has to get rid of him somehow, then she’ll ubilocate to Randolph and tell him everything. He’ll surely know what to do about Fergus. But she has to know one last thing. 

“Why did you leave me in the dark for so many years and then tell me now?” Fergus smirks at her.

“Because the right moment has come. Randolph has been meddling in a shadow hunt and that’s unusual, so we know something’s up. And you’ve released your dark forces again, I can still feel it in you.” Ruth snatches her hand away from him.

“I will never help you frame Randolph! You can’t make me! You have to respect Arash law!” she hisses angrily. Fergus gets up from the bed, looking at the girl disdainfully.

“No family respects the law more than we do. The word Arash means ‘bright’, that’s why we reject all Dark Arash. They’re a mistake of nature.” Ruth winces at his words. “According to our law anyone who kills another Arash should die. You surely know that?” Ruth nods her head, not understanding where he’s going with this. “You killed me, remember?” He raises his eyebrows suggestively.

“Regrettably I didn’t,” Ruth snaps. “I couldn’t have anyway as a human. I didn’t know about Arash at all then!” Fergus just shrugs.

“Ignorance is no excuse for murder, is it? You’re bad to the core, just think about what you tried to do to Livia!” Ruth’s breath hitches in her throat. Obviously they’ve been watching her all along. They know about her attack. “You simply have no choice, Ruth,” Fergus continues calmly. “Deliver a reason for us to take action against Randolph or we’ll kill you, it’s as simple as that.” In the next instant he is gone.


© Elke Stevens