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I got there too late.

Blood soaked the room. Soft moonlight shone down on the townhouse's sullied walls. A kitchen towel still hung beside dried dishes next to the sink, yet the floor below ran with red. The blood didn't bother me. It hadn't bothered me since I made my first kill at the age of eleven.

Under a table with cheery yellow placemats, there lay a body of a headless boy in a school letterman jacket. Blood still seeped out of from the stump of the severed spine where I'd hacked the head from the boy's shoulders. The head had tumbled under a cheap wooden table with a surprised expression still frozen on his smooth youthful face. It hid any sign of the beast which lurked underneath the skin.

Gargoyles didn't die very easily. I wiped my sword against my leg, not knowing why I bothered to clean it. Any sword I touched got dirty. However, this time the sword wasn't mine. It belonged to the dead mother on the floor.

If only I was a few minutes sooner...I clamped down the thought. It never paid to look back.

My eyes found the daughter. She still lived, her chest rising and falling evenly as she lay unconscious. The gargoyle had knocked her out. Stillness, however, only made her look more perfect—all pink lips and unmarked skin. If I hadn't gotten there, however, I doubted the beast would have left her so untouched.

"So? Is she one of us?" my eager apprentice asked. Wearing a black cloak, he stood peering out a window.

"No," I said, reaching out to touch a strand of golden-brown hair which splayed around her face like a torn halo. The gargoyle had tried to break her. But she'd been the one holding the sword when I came in.

For weeks, I'd watched her. She was stronger than she realized, surprisingly strong. But she wasn't one of us. Not anything special. Just a regular girl. Then why did you save her?

Sirens sounded from outside. They were getting closer.

"We should go," came the obvious realization from my apprentice. I sighed. Apprentices had been so much easier to train in my time. The boy tugged at the curtains we . "The police are here!"

I wasn't worried. With a glamour spell, we could walk by them and they wouldn't even see us. Though it would cost me. Magic was expensive. But I couldn't leave her. Not yet. In a small burst of magic, I melded the fabric of the girl's ripped shirt. In another burst of magic, blue fire went over her face as I melded her mind. I hadn't been able to stop the horror but I could bury it. Forget now, Ryan.

Ryan. I quite liked the sound of her name. She wasn't the one. For a brief moment, I wanted her to be. But then I was selfish that way.

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