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There wasn't anywhere to hide in the lab, none of the consoles were big enough to provide a hiding spot, and the table was in the center of the room. Though Audri tried the door in the far wall, it wouldn't budge, and not even her questionable skills could get it open.—there wasn't any way out other than the elevator. They could only wait and hope the person coming down the elevator was Abram, and that he wouldn't be too upset they had broken into the lab. That was better than the alternative, if Ikarios was coming down that elevator, Tavia wasn't sure what they would do.

The elevator reached the ground floor, and she was at a loss for what to do. Stand in front of the elevator with an awkward smile? Or hang near the back of the room as if she was hoping not to be noticed? In the end, she settled on standing between Izak and Evos halfway between the table and the elevator while Audri fidgeted off to one side of the room. She looked half ready for a fight, and half embarrassed that they were going to be caught.

The elevator slid open and, as she had expected and hoped, Abram stepped out of the elevator. He looked around and then spotted the group waiting for him a short distance away. He frowned and folded his arms across his chest.

"I thought I said to wait outside for me," he said. "How did you even find this place and get in?"

"Some things came up," Audri said with a glance in Tavia's direction.

Abram looked to Tavia for an explanation and she tried not glare over at Audri. Well, it was probably best she explain, since she was the only one who had been present for everything—other than Evos, of course, but Tavia doubted Evos was going to be very forthcoming.

"I was waiting outside, but Ikarios showed up," she said.

The expression on Abram's face immediately shifted from dark anger to suspicion and curiosity. Tavia related the events of the confrontation, leaving out the details of her attempt to fight and the strange manner in which Ikarios and Evos had seemed to know each other. Though she glossed over them, Abram's gaze shifted to Evos for just a moment and then back to Tavia, and she had a feeling the man had her figured out.

"I didn't think he would return so soon," Abram said. "You're lucky he was willing to retreat so easily."

"Who is he?" Audri asked, and at the same time, Izak asked, "What was that thing he did?"

Abram looked at them both. His eyes narrowed as he thought. After a moment of silence, he shrugged and gave them a small smile.

"Though perhaps it's better not to know in the long run, I suppose I can explain," Abram said.

He made his way to the bed where his son lay and rested his hands on the blankets covering Savin. He stood there, straightening the folds in the fabric, and Tavia watched his back while the man prepared to speak again. Eventually, he turned around and faced them, leaning against the edge of the table.

"Ikarios is a Demi," he said. "I'm sure that term means nothing to you, but suffice it to say, he is not human."

"Isn't that a bit rude?" Audri asked. "Saying someone isn't human just because he's a Terrisian?"

"Is he?" Abram asked. "I've seen him before, but I don't recall what he looks like."

"He's a Terrisian child," Tavia said. "About twelve, I think."

That wasn't the kind of appearance a person just forgot, especially when it was accompanied with the kind of arrogance Ikarios carried with ease.

"I see." Abram mumbled, he gave a cough, clearing his throat and continued. "Either way, when I say 'not human,' I mean something more fundamental. Ikarios is a being that, while residing in a human body, is capable of doing things beyond what a human, or really any other living being, can do."

"Like that mind control thing?" Tavia asked.

Abram nodded. "Though the specific ability for each Demi varies, they are all capable of using magic without needing an Artifact, and in many cases, their abilities can't even be replicated by an Artifact."

"What?" Izak asked. "If someone like that is running around, why haven't we ever heard of them before?"

"They aren't very common," Abram said, "and they tend to be rather reclusive."

Reclusive? Ikarios hadn't come across as a recluse to Tavia. Maybe arrogant, and not at all like a child. In that sense, she could actually believe he was more than human.

"Demi what?" Audri asked. "That's the name of their...species or something?"

"Species implies they can reproduce, but the children of Demis are just regular humans—no, I'm getting side-tracked here," Abram said. "The name is old, dating back to the Terrisian empire, Demi-human was perhaps the original name. Though we don't know that much for certain."

The reason behind the name wasn't important. There were better questions to be asking now, and Tavia had been wondering one thing since the very beginning. What was Ikarios after?

"If they're so reclusive, then why is Ikarios attacking RIOAR?" Tavia asked.

"I believe the reason is lying right here," Abram said as he gestured to the man on the table. "My son, Savin, has become a victim of a Demi attempting rebirth."

No one said anything, and after a moment Abram chuckled.

"This is just going to get harder to believe," he said. "When a Demi dies, unlike humans, their souls do not return to a state of Althier and rejoin the world. Instead, their soul waits until a suitable body comes along, a human vessel they can possess and control."

"So they're immortal?" Izak asked.

"Essentially," Abram replied. "Though their body is physically human and no more difficult to kill than a normal person."

This conversation was not going in a direction Tavia liked. She looked back at Evos, but his focus was all on Savin. He didn't even notice her watching him.

"So, your son was possessed by one of these 'Demis'?" Tavia asked.

Abram nodded, and then the features of his face softened, his eyes staring past her, into the distance.

"It was my fault, perhaps," he said. "Demis are able to use magic directly, and different kinds of magic we have yet to develop. We were researching that here, examining the soul of a Demi we found alongside the Ageless Sword.

"There...was an accident." Abram paused, his gaze fell to the floor, and then he turned around, looking down at his son on the bed. "We got careless, and the soul was perhaps stronger than we thought. I don't know if Savin was really compatible with it, but as soon as the soul had a chance, it fused with Savin. Now the two souls in Savin's body are fighting for dominance."

"Is that why he's sleeping?" Audri asked.

Abram shook his head. "I'm afraid that sleep is unnatural, something I induced. The soul belongs to a Demi named Dieos, a very old, very powerful Demi. There is no way Savin would be able to fight off a soul like that."

"Dieos?" Evos muttered. "This person really is Dieos?"

Panic seized Abram's features and he stepped forward to block Evos's line of sight.

"I know what you're thinking," Abram said. "But I will not let you harm Savin."

"'Even amongst the Demis, Dieos is a special existence," Evos said. "He is more dangerous than you can possibly imagine."

"Evos, you know about these...Demis?" Tavia asked.

Evos nodded, but his focus remained on Abram. "Dieos was known as the Time Eater for a reason. We can't risk letting that thing return to life. Should he wake, his very existence may destroy time itself."

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As always, thank you for reading! If you're enjoying, please drop a comment and let me know! I'd really love to meet some of you.


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