THE SAFE HOUSE
A/N : I haven’t had time to edit, so I will most likely do it this week-end, I apologize! – Alixa
Dantalian took a defensive position and waited for Alyah to attack him. The teenager charged him with the two daggers he had gotten her, trying to find an opening in his stance. The blades were much easier for her to handle, but they still would clash with his sword or armor every time she tried to get him, deflected away. It was frustrating, she felt like she was fighting like a child, but she kept going at him at full speed. She needed to get better.
Since they had escaped from Rakiel a month ago, they had been staying in this safe house, hidden in the underground city of Destrim. Alyah had hated feeling so powerless so she had asked Dan to help her improve. Even though she still couldn’t breach his impeccable defense, she did feel stronger already and more in control. Safer.
Her blades clashed with his sword once last time, sending purple threads of electricity between them. They took a step back, the demon nodding his approval while the girl took a breath. It was exhausting, to coat the daggers with her power, but she badly needed the practice.
Alyah was ready for another round but Dantalian shook his head.
“It’s enough for today. You need to rest and I need to scout the area.”
The demon put away his sword and waited for her to do the same with her weapons. She sighed and slid the daggers back into her belt, then lead the way out of the basement.
The actual house was quite small. It had only one bedroom that Dan left to Alyah while he would sleep on the couch in the living space. It was barely enough for both of them, but considering their situation, this was the best they could do. They needed to stay low for as long as possible. By now, the news had spread that Alyah had gone rogue and that Dantalian was protecting her. Demons and angels were probably already looking for them, mostly to kill them, maybe to convince them to reconsider.
“Alright, I won’t be long. I will just make sure we are still safe here.”
Alyah nodded and sat on the couch, picking up one of the many books that had been here when they arrived. It was unlikely anyone would find them in this remote part of town, far from the war front, but Dan often left anyway on patrols to make sure their location hadn’t been found.
“Is there anything you would like for dinner? I can stop at the market.”
The girl looked up and smiled.
“We can eat some real food? Maybe that pasta recipe with mushrooms and chicken…”
She stopped mid-sentence, remembering it was Kiriel’s recipe. Still no news from her. Alyah was worried she would never see her friend again.
The demon sensed her worry and put a hand on her head, trying to be reassuring.
“I can make it for you, if you would like.”
It wasn’t his area of expertise, but he felt responsible for her and for what happened back there. He knew Kiriel would be fine, Heaven wouldn’t take her life as punishment, but he doubted she would be set free anytime soon. At best, she would still be sent on missions, but she would be closely guarded to avoid any chance of treason.
“I won’t be long. Call me if there is anything at all.”
Alyah nodded and managed to smile faintly. Dan had given her a small blue crystal on a chain and said she could call him with it if she needed him while he was away. She never used it, but she did keep it around her neck just in case.
Unconsciously, her fingers wrapped around the crystal as she watched him walk out the door. She disliked having to wait safely here, but she knew there wasn’t much she could do just yet. Rakiel had shaken her harder than she had thought, proving she wasn’t ready. While she slept, she could still see him piercing her with his cold eyes, trying to read her soul. Sometimes, she thought he was still watching her, even knowing she was safe in this hidden house.
The teenager waited a few more minutes before getting up and heading back to the basement. Even if her mentor was gone, she would keep practicing until she would be completely drained. She couldn’t stand the inaction, and she only felt safe knowing she could fight back.
* * *
Dantalian pulled the hood over his head while walking around the empty streets. It seemed like he was alone, but he didn’t want to take any risks; one never knew who was watching.
The underground city was very much like the one above the ground; most of the buildings were all made of glass and reflected the artificial light that was meant to mimic the day and night cycles. The area where he and Alyah were hiding was deep, though. They were under the mall and nightclub area, under the middle class residential floors, under the research labs and the artificial farms. They were living where the city was the darkest, deepest, where most people didn’t go unless they had nowhere else to go. Outcasts and criminals were hiding out here, which meant that they wouldn’t ask questions when the hooded figure showed itself at dusk. They were all too busy hiding their own secrets.
The demon wasn’t a fool, he knew he would be found sooner or later. However, chances were that he would encounter one of his kind before angels even thought of this place. He was confident he could silence most of those who might spot him, or at least buy a bit of time to move. Alert while patrolling, he was watching out for any spy, magical or not.
Luckily, the area was still clear. Heading towards the market, he let his thoughts drift towards Alyah and Kiriel. He didn’t like this waiting game anymore than the girl he was protecting, but he couldn’t rashly invade Heaven to find their friend. Friend… when did he start thinking of the redheaded angel that way? Rival would be more appropriated, if not enemy, but over the centuries, something had changed between them.
“Hey there. You look like you might have the coins to buy something special. Wanna see what I got in my shop?”
Dan barely lift his eyes on the merchant, knowing their kind too well. Either illegal or overpriced items, possibly both, were sold there and he wasn’t interested. He brushed him off with a swift hand gesture and kept going, but the man insisted.
“How about a minute of your time, Golden General?”
That was the name demons used to mock him. The golden haired demon stopped and stared at the man. He didn’t look like much, so thin he looked like he was made out of bones and skin. His hair was white and sparse, and his teeth, rotten and crooked. Who was he and how did he know? Most demons could change their appearance at will, so Dan wouldn’t be able to recognize him if he didn’t want to be recognized.
“Don’t worry, my lord. I am not here as an enemy.”
“Name yourself, then.”
“I am but your humble servant. I am known as Lyzan, my lord, and I wish you no harm.”
Lyzan… Dantalian never heard this name before, but if this was indeed a lesser demon, there was nothing to worry about. Still, he felt something was very wrong and couldn’t shake the urge to kill the merchant before it was too late.
“Tell me, what do you want, Lyzan.”
“I am looking for an opportunity, as all of us do. I happen to have information regarding the King’s army and you. Do you know how much your head is worth at the moment?”
That wasn’t good news. If the new King of Hell wanted him dead, there was little Dan could do to avoid it. There were many powerful demons, and some less powerful, at the King’s court, begging to prove their loyalty. In exchange for power, of course. They all hungered for power, and so did he.
“I could go to him and let him know of your whereabouts, but I think you would be ready to pay more to keep it a secret.”
“I ask again. What do you want, Lyzan.”
“I just ask for you to not interfere with my… activities. We all know how righteous the Golden General can be.”
Dan didn’t like the way the demon was talking to him, but he agreed nonetheless.
“As long as you stay out of my affairs, you will be left alone. Does this suit you, Lyzan?”
“Yes, my lord. It seems we have a deal…”
Dantalian didn’t trust him. Someone who could be bought could always turn against you if offered a better deal. However, it didn’t seem like Lyzan was after power, but secrecy. What was it that he was doing down here?
“The King has ordered a search for you and the girl. He is not pleased, but he still hopes. The King wants you linked to her, but most aristocrats want your head, my lord. Your powers would then be theirs, and so would she.”
The demon didn’t like what he was hearing, but it wasn’t anything surprising. He needed to figure out a plan soon, or he and Alyah would be trapped here.
“Well then, be on your way, my lord. I believe there is a starving girl waiting for you.”
Dan nodded goodbye to the merchant and headed to the food store where he got the missing ingredients for tonight’s dinner. On his way back, he walked by Lyzan’s shop, but the man was nowhere to be seen…