THE GIRL FELL TO THE GROUND. The man pulled forcibly on the reins, stopping the horses.
He stepped off of the chariot, ordering the horses to vanish. They did, taking the chariot with them.
He did not go any closer to the girl. He stood, motionless on the spot. He only watched her, making sure she was alive. Had her fear of him killed her? Impossible, he chastised himself, for she was immortal. But she could surely try her best. If she wanted to, she could go into a deep sleep that could last for centuries. He was worried she would do this.
Tentatively, he stepped toward the girl, his boots crunching the snow underneath him. He looked around. He had caused all this death and cold. He looked at the girl, in her soft pink dress and flowers resting in her hair. She was the only light, the only pure thing in this area. He, certainly, was not pure. He had done too many things. This included.
This does not count, he said to himself; you were given permission to do this.
He walked up toward the girl, falling to his knees once he saw her beauty up close. He had watched her, many times before. Once he had seen her, he knew he was compelled by her. She was pure, kind-hearted and gentle. The complete opposite of himself. She was capable of affection, while he was not. But for her, he would give it his best.
He reached out a gloved hand, brushing her cheek. Even through his gloves, he could feel her warmth, her pureness. It was something he craved, something he desired. That was why he was so desperate.
As he gazed at her soft, fragile beauty, he felt an emotion he only felt when looking at her.
So this is what the mortals call love.
He looked at the girl for one more moment, and then slid his arms underneath her, lifting her up gently into his arms. The ground split open again, and the man carried the girl into his kingdom of darkness, knowing his last thought would reach his brother's home.
Thank you, brother, for the gift, he thought.
THE MAN APPEARED inside his castle, the wispy wraiths immediately swishing up closer to him, awaiting orders, but never got too close to their master.
"Leave me," commanded the man, "Go tend the gardens."
The wraiths immediately dissipated in response.
The man carried the girl into his chambers, laying her down gently onto the bed. He walked across the room, removing his armor and his helm. He willed his armor to disappear, and it did, but he left the helm behind.
This had helped him watch the girl without being seen. It cloaked him completely, drawing up some of the energy from the Underworld and gave it to him to use when he left his kingdom. He was left invisible when needed.
Dismissing the memory of watching the girl, he made the helm disappear as well. He did not take off his gloves, because if and when the girl touched him, he did not want her to feel his cold hands.
Sighing, he crossed the room again and went to the girl's side. She was still in her fainted state, the glowing of her life visible in the darkness.
Slowly, the man reached out a hand, moving the fallen hair away from her face. Her hair was a deep shade of brown, but turned lighter in the sunlight, something she wouldn't see again for a while. Her eyes, when open, were a dark chocolate color, that, in the light, glowed, lighting up the gold and green flecks hiding inside them.
She was considered plain, especially to others he had known, but no mortal or goddess would ever match to her beauty or her warmth. That was something only she had, and only she could give him. And he had been willing to do anything to get it.
The man sensed the girl was cold, so he pulled the blankets over her, like mortal mothers to do their children. The girl moved slightly, but was still again after the blankets were on her.
The man took one last glance at the girl before leaving the room, shutting the door behind him.