"So," Eliza's mind spun like a top, "You're like, a witch or something?" This couldn't be for real, Eliza thought. Magic doesn't exist, none of this exists. Everyone in their right mind knew that.
Uso made a face. "I guess you could say that, but you can call me whatever you want. Sorcerer, warlock, witch, mage... It's all the same thing, really." Eliza gulped, her throat as dry as sandpaper. "But you're not real. I mean, you can't be real!"
She paused. "Can you?" Smiling, Uso looked out into the distance. "I've been alive for a long time," She said, "And I don't think there's a thing on this earth, no dream, no idea, that you can truly call impossible." Eliza fidgeted, picking a fingernail. "You won't zap me or anything for not giving you peanut butter, will you?"
Uso snorted. "Don't be ridiculous! When I'm stronger, I'll just summon my own peanut butter. Maybe I should explain this whole thing better. The way I know humans, you're probably feeling a little frazzled."
Eliza nearly laughed out loud. That was the understatement of the century.
Two cheap, plastic deck chairs sat out on the balcony. Uso sank down in one, crossing her legs. Eliza followed suit. "Look up." Uso suggested. Looking up, Eliza's eyes came to rest on what appeared to be a glowing picture-frame floating above the railing.
Two circles blinked onto the screen.
Eliza wasn't quite as surprised at this point. As she watched, the circle on the left changed color to gold. The word "humans" wrote itself on top. The second circle faded to black, its title "unholy".
"To start off this lesson," Uso began, "There were originally only two kinds of living thing on the planet; the humans, Heaven's gift, and the Unholy, Devil's spawn. The balance of this Earth was nearly perfect. That is, until..."
The two circles merged, creating a purple hue where they met. "The two groups began to mate. Yes, it's really nasty. I'll spare you the details. Anyway, the chance the female will conceive is one in a million, and if they do, the chance that one of my kind, a child of the twilight, will be born is infinitesimal. We're not demons, but we aren't human either. This is a gift and a curse."
The picture on the screen changed, displaying two groups of humanoid figures; one black, the other gold. A small, purple figure stood between the two groups. "First, " Uso said, "We really can't fit in with either of the two original races. While unholy and humans can live side-by-side, they can tell when we're close-by." An image of a figure being burnt at the stake flickered into sight.
"But we have immeasurable power. As a result of our screwed up DNA, we can control any and all matter, so anything that has mass and takes up space. Even the mind can be controlled, but that's extremely difficult. And, unlike most unholy, we can feel real emotions. For the most part, we have human souls. We aren't completely human, but we aren't entirely god either.
"What else exists?" Eliza sputtered, "Vampires?"
Uso almost fell out of her chair laughing. "If I had a dime for every time I've heard that one..." Suddenly, Eliza remembered. "What are unholy? You said they live side-by-side with humans. How can anyone tell what they are? Would they hurt us?"
Uso thought. "As a daughter of twilight, I can see the difference almost instantly. The closest human interpretations of unholy are creatures like demons. In fact, most of the monsters humanity has dreamed up are based off unholy. And yes, unfortunately, they are dangerous. But let me get this straight; they aren't evil, just more likely to break the rules.
"Most members of my race have taken it upon themselves to protect the balance of th universe. While we are, by a vast amount, the minority, we're more powerful in general. Our government system is comprised of seven casts, with seven high librans serving as the highest ranking cast. Individually, these seven have the ability to ruin entire armies. Hypothetically speaking, of course."
"So," Eliza began carefully, "Where do I fit into all of this?" Uso scrutinized her for a moment. "That's weird. I can't seem to pin down your life force right now. I must still be too weak. But I'm certain you're human. And up until now, I'm going to assume you've lived a perfectly normal life."
Yes, up until today, Eliza had been living almost exactly as she'd wanted to. Now what, she was just supposed to believe in magic and monsters or whatever this was? No, she had seen. She just didn't want to believe.
But at the same time, she did.
"Alright, I'm getting impatient," Eliza finally exclaimed, "How did you wind up here?" Uso sat up correctly in her seat. "Story-time!"
"Besides the normal unholy, as normal as they get, there are a select few that have attained a massive amount of power. These are called wraiths, and they're just as strong, if not stronger, than the children of twilight. In rare cases, the same sort of thing can happen to humans. We call them exorcists, and they obtain power though blessed weapons, but that's a lesson for another day.
"It's not recommended, but a child of twilight can create a truce, or a pact, with a wraith. It's a partnership of sorts, requiring some level of trust. Last night, I finally found someone, another child of twilight, who I've been looking for for a very long time." She clenched a fist. "I wanted revenge so badly, I didn't even care if I had to make a pact with a wraith to get it. It was hard, but I found my way into the realm of the wraith Vitalis and convinced him to help me.
"See, she would never have expected me to go to such lengths to harm her, to sink so low to get my revenge. It was the perfect plan. But Vitalis, I'll be frank, is a complete moron. Before we entered her realm, I transformed myself into a bird for speed. Vitalis, thinking I was prey, attacked me. Badly wounded, I tried to transport myself home. Instead, I screwed up and crashed through your window."
"Well, ah," Eliza felt bad for what she was about to do, but she had no choice. The entire situation was fraying her nerves. She was torn between wanting to know more and wanting Uso gone. "Could you stop being here? I mean, if you really are better, you should be able to leave, right?"
Uso grew somber. "If only. Unfortunately, I'm just not strong enough to get back. My home is a realm I've created on my own, a space just for me. Most of my us have our own realms, individual pockets of the universe. While the entrance to mine is nearby, I can't open the doorway without a significant amount of power. Wounds inflicted by a wraith drain strength like you wouldn't believe.
"Oh." Well now, Eliza was screwed. "There's no where else you can go?" She asked desperately. "No, not really," Uso replied, "I count myself lucky you haven't pulled out a torch and pitchfork yet, or called the newspaper."
Eliza couldn't bring herself to crush bugs. There was no way she could give the witch the boot now if it would hurt her. She was surprised at herself. Was she really going to let a stranger camp out in her apartment for an indeterminate period of time?
Something deep inside Eliza had flared up, and she didn't know what it was, but it wouldn't let her deny the woman in from of her.
Eliza looked up, her electric blue eyes meeting the sky in Uso's. "You can stay," She said with resolution, "For as long as it takes"
Uso pumped her fist, her grin back and splitting her face.