Daemon awoke with a groan, sitting up amongst a pile of books and broken wood which may have once formed a shelf. Her vision came into focus and she saw Austin stood by a broken window, gazing out, shaking slightly. "W-what happened?" She moaned. He jumped and turned to her, opening and closing his mouth a few times as though not sure what to say.
"We...ran afoul of some...undesirables..." He turned away again and tried to pick glass out of his palm. "They're gone now. So are the others, though. No clue where we are, so I might fall back into street life."
"Okay...I can go then, right?"
"Might be dangerous out there, but yeah...if I can have my sister's phone number."
Daemon rolled her eyes and groaned, then got up, felt dizzy, stumbled and groaned again. Austin helped her steady herself, biting his lip in concern. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Your sister does not want any contact with you."
"I don't care. I want to talk to her. And you're not fine, you can hardly stand."
"What do you care?"
He showed her his hand. "That's just one of the injuries I received trying to protect you."
"Which you wouldn't have had to have done if you hadn't taken my nose ring!"
He flinched. "You attacked us. I took it away for defence reasons. I still protected you, and they didn't even touch you. You bloody fainted! So no, it wouldn't have made a difference because you still probably would have fainted."
Daemon frowned and tried to remember. "I...I fainted?"
"Yes!" He turned to look out the window again and went back to removing glass from his hand, making it quite clear how painful it was. Daemon stood and went over to the front door of what she guessed was a bookshop. She tried the door, but it was locked. It was probably just bolted, but it was too dark to see the bolts. "Austin, turn the light on..."
"Doesn't work." He swore, kicked something and swore again. She used the light of her phone instead, finding the bolts and then beckoning him out. He shook his head and rolled his eyes and followed her. "I'm sleeping in here. It's a squat. Nobody lives or works here. The bookshelf came from another shop."
"You can sleep in there, I'm finding me a bed."
"Yeah, good luck with that. I already have shelter and blankets." He spoke in a tone that sounded like he was offering something attractive. Daemon pulled a face. "Aren't Necromancers supposed to be all about suffering or something when they're not about death?"
"Shut up. You told me you rejected those teachings."
"That I did." He stared up at the night sky then turned and went back inside, stretching. Daemon stood there in the cold for a moment before following him back inside.
"Give me my weapon back!"
Jasmin, Pourri and Charles had teleported back to the French Sanctuary. The halls were relatively quiet and Pourri disappeared a second later to check on her children. Jasmin tapped his foot and leant against the wall, sighing. There was no way of knowing what had become of the others. He hated the idea of not knowing their fate. Of course, this was where his detective skills would have come in handy if his job hadn't changed. Charles looked at him and seemed to read his mind. "No way. I am not going back to Ireland unless I'm forced to. And I don't follow your orders. We agreed that ages ago."
"When we were partners."
"When we faced Vehemence, McMooney and Repine. We agreed no matter what happened, we would work in tandem, as equals."
"Then stop acting my bodyguard half the time, or like I need protecting. I don't. I don't care about my job, I'm just as good as I ever was."
"I don't doubt that." Charles shook his head as his friend turned away. "Jasmin, you should go talk to the other elders."
"Yes, I should."
"Are you going to?"
Repine nudged Frivolidad with his foot. Slowly, he moved him out of the road and behind a Pizza Hut. The man had taken a rather nasty whack to the head. Kelpsie didn't especially want to travel around with this man and went shadow walking. He wasn't entirely sure where he was going.
When Frivolidad awoke, he just lay there for a while, trying to remember. Finally he sat up, thinking he recognised the attackers. He didn't write it off as paranoia. He tried to think carefully who had been there. Once he was sure of the faces, he pushed them into his memory, ready to call them back up when they were needed. He had to do it quick because his mind was moving on fast. Moving on to the French man with white hair. He had to make sure he was okay.
No matter what was said, he was going to work tomorrow. He was finally beginning to drift off. Erskine was home now. The medical staff at the Sanctuary had worked their magic while he slept on that bed, and he was still a little sore, but the only lasting damage would be his knee (they had given him a cane to help him walk and he hated it, temporary or permanent) and his face (They were pretty certain they were too late to avoid some permanent scarring). A branch tapped against the window. It did that nearly every night and it was no longer annoying, more like a normal part of his night. Suddenly, he jerked his head away from an invisible something, his arms coming up to protect his head from nothing, and his neck cricked. Wide awake now, he sat up and tried to loosen the crick. He went downstairs to get a drink and when he got back hoped he would sleep easier. He was wrong and spent what could have been another hour tossing and turning in vain. The old house creaked and the branch tapped and Erskine began to perspire. Too hot, he decided, kicking off his duvet and pulling a face at the rhythmic thunk of the stupid walking stick. The window only opened a few inches and he got an odd feeling of claustrophobia. The house stopped creaking and the branch stopped tapping as he returned to his bed and all was silent but for his own shallow breathing and a clatter as his cane fell to its side. Silence. He actually wasn't used to sleeping in silence. It unnerved him. Like something was wrong. Something was wrong. He tossed and turned, suddenly too cold, his chest feeling tight, constricted, burning even, as though the air in the room...as if someone or something had snatched it away before he could inhale. Shapes loomed in the darkness and he screwed his eyes shut, whispering to himself that it was not real over and over. Something banged downstairs and he cried out, turned, lunged for the phone on his bedside table and sat sat there, receiver held to his ear, panting, with a finger hovering over the numbers. He clicked on the lamp and tried to come up with a logical explanation for the noise.
"I left the kitchen window open...it...the wind blew it shut..." He hobbled down the stairs to test his theory and found the window slightly open where it had rebounded after the slam. He locked it, returned to his room, sat on his bed and picked up the phone again. He hadn't slept at all at the hotel. The medical bay had been pure exhaustion mixed with undiluted pain. There was nothing to force his body to power down for the night. The last thing he wanted was to be snapped at, so he called someone he had never heard snap. As well as Ghastly, of course.
"You didn't have to come round."
Ghastly shrugged. "Maybe we felt we did. You sounded terrified."
"It was just a night terror." He took a sip of tea from the mug in front of him.
Mist inclined her head. "Understandable, considering your ordeal."
"I've lived through several wars, mortal and magic, fought in two of them, seen countless people die, sustained countless injuries, and I have never had a night terror before. Not so much as a bad dream since I was an actual child."
Her arm rested on his shoulder. "As I said, understandable, considering your ordeal."
"I cracked so easily. The second time they brought me to the room, I begged all the way down the halls, I started crying, I was begging them to stop, to let me go."
"Honestly?" Ghastly started, smiling, "It takes a lot to hold out against torture. Most people would break down instantly."
"...I miss my middle finger..."
Mist arched an eyebrow, just as she had when she had seen a bowl of dead goldfish in the hall and Erskine had had to explain that no-one had fed them while he was gone. "Perhaps swearing at them was not one of your brighter ideas." Erskine didn't notice her hand slip down his arm until it seemed she was examining his muscles.
"Did you come here just to feel my muscles or because you cared?"
"Shh, your muscles and I are having a moment."
Ghastly chuckled. Erskine muttered "they aren't even that big".
"Maybe you should try therapy." Ghastly suggested light-heartedly.
Erskine glared. "You know how I feel about therapists after Marie."
"Respect for the dead, Erskine. I thought you'd say something similar...just without the Marie remark."
"You didn't like Marie. You said she would be Skul's biggest mistake."
"Not sure if I was right or not..."
There was no response. Ravel's hands were shaking. She had only just noticed. Some of the tea had spilt. Reaching over, she carefully pushed the cup and Ravel's hands back down onto the table. She edged her chair closer to him and cuddled up to him. "Will there be much work for me to do tomorrow?"
"The doctors said you needed a rest period."
"Yes, they did. Ghastly, is there much of a build-up? I'll need something to occupy myself anyway."
"You ought to talk to the other Grand Mages."
((And Daemon and Austin are now good friends. I love writing scenes with them. They have such a love/hate relationship...I may introduce some more of Baritone's friends...but Billie, you already have loads of characters! Shuddup, Jinxie, Derek introduces way too many characters to his books! Uh, Nemone, you're kinda talking to yourself...))