He waited until the full moon rose high in the night sky to make his way to the secret place, the place where his wishes would come true. He wanted her more than he could express, but his station was not of the level her parents would accept. Certainly he could work hard, persevere and lift himself to be worthy her parents’ praise, but he was not a patient man. And for those lacking in time to reach their goals, only one place could satisfy: the underworld.
He waited for the young man near the merchant stall, eyes half-hooded, breathing slow and steady. The stench of alcohol, piss and blood was a pungent aroma all too familiar and a welcome scent of home. This would not be his first deal of the night, nor would it be his last. A steady line of greedy souls flooded in and out of the underworld in need of his particular services.
“I’m here. I’m ready.”
He’d smelled the anxiety before the voice reached him, and glowing red eyes opened as his head tilted toward the petitioner. A smile lacking all benevolence charmed the young man without effort.
“What are you willing to trade for what you want?”
“Anything! I have to marry her.”
“Excellent. I know just what I want.”