Sobbing, he held her limp body in the midst of the summoning circle. The daemon paced back and forth outside its protection, clutching his lapels like a salesman. Every move was feline in its easy, supple motions with menace coiled in wait for a lightning strike and barely contained.

“How will I know it’s really her?” he sobbed.

“How did you ever know what was really her before?” purred the daemon. “Does anyone really know another’s heart? Can they?”

“And…it’ll be like she never died?”

“Of course, of course,” said the daemon. “You’ll never know the difference until the day comes for the Darkfather to claim his prize, and she carves out your living heart to offer upon his black altar.”

The man sniffed. “A small price to pay. What about her, afterwards?”

“Why, I do believe that will be none of your concern,” the daemon replied. “Suffice it to say that it can’t be worse than her present predicament.”

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